Chaqya Hosea, MSW, Program Manager, Equity Forward | August 2, 2023 Blog Post

In 2023 alone, over 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures, more than 220 bills specifically target transgender and non-binary people, and 70 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted in various states, shedding light on the broader issue of discriminatory legislation. The Georgia legislature is a prime example of this harmful trend. Several bills have been introduced impacting access to healthcare, threatening civil rights, and impeding the education of LGBTQIA+ youth. For example, SB 140, which was signed into law and went into effect July 1, 2023, bans surgical procedures and hormone replacement therapy for people under the age of 18.  

Among the other bills introduced are SB 88, which aims to mandate parental notification for discussions of gender identity in schools. Senate Bill (SB) 141 would ban all gender affirming care for minors. Senate Bill (SB) 180, named the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act”, allows for discrimination based on religious beliefs. House Bill (HB) 653 prohibits healthcare providers from performing practices on minors to alter their appearance relating to gender. These bills pose significant threats to LGBTQIA+ rights and healthcare access, emphasizing the need for continued advocacy against discriminatory legislation.

The connection between legislators who support both anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and AACs can be attributed to various factors. Conservative politicians who seek to uphold what they interpret as traditional and moral family standards often support both causes. Legislators who are affiliated with conservative organizations and religious groups may also support anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and AACs to align with their religious teachings and values. 

Many Republicans and conservative legislators oppose LGBTQIA+ rights, abortion access, and same-sex marriage due to their claimed adherence to "Christian" values. Anti-LGBTQIA+ beliefs, contributing to the introduction of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, can be motivated by religious beliefs, conservative ideologies, and/or white supremacist ideologies. This blog explores the relationships between legislators, anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, white supremacy, anti-abortion centers (AACs, sometimes referred to as crisis pregnancy centers), and their motivations and implications.

Conservative political ideologies often overlap with “Christian” beliefs, emphasizing religious or traditional norms. Legislators who hold these views may view abortion, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQIA+ rights as challenges to these norms. Consequently, they may support legislation that restricts or outright bans these rights. 

Historically, white supremacist have exploited religious beliefs, namely Christianity, to justify the discrimination and oppression of marginalized groups (i.e. slavery).The National Education Association defines white supremacy culture as “a political ideology and systemic oppression that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial white domination.” White supremacist ideologies promote discriminatory practices against marginalized groups, such as limiting the rights and freedoms of LGBTQIA+ individuals

Religious groups and conservative organizations play significant roles in advocating, supporting, and promoting anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. Organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the Liberty Council, and the American Principles Project have provided templates and support for bills that restrict the rights of LGBTQIA+ folk.  Some religious groups use their scriptures or other teachings to condemn and infringe upon the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Given the overlap between religious and conservative views, these groups often push for legislation that undermines LGBTQIA+ rights under the guise of preserving traditional families and protecting religious freedom. Additionally, these groups connect with legislators who have the same agenda to exchange strategies and funds to support anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.

Anti-abortion centers (AACs), also known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), are organizations that exist to prevent individuals from seeking abortion care. Typically staffed with conservative volunteers, AACs use anti-abortion propaganda and religious-based materials to dissuade individuals from getting abortions by presenting “abortion alternatives” and spewing biased or misleading information about abortion. Many AACs use a variety of unethical and deceptive tactics to attract individuals seeking information about abortion. Some tactics include using unclear advertising that suggests they offer free information about all pregnancy options, misinformation about abortion procedures and risks, purposely locating themselves near abortion clinics, and using names that resemble comprehensive medical clinics, which could lead individuals to mistakenly visit an AAC.

Arguably worse than AACs’ deceptive tactics are the lack of regulations surrounding these centers. Unlike legitimate healthcare facilities, AACs operate with little to no regulations. AACs are not legally obligated to provide pregnant people with accurate information surrounding their pregnancy options, nor are they subject to HIPAA regulations or legally required to maintain client confidentiality. Their lack of accurate information can interfere with pregnant individuals’ ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. 

Conservative legislators support AACs due to their opposition to abortion. One way that anti-abortion legislators stand in the way of abortion access is by supporting anti-abortion centers with taxpayer dollars. There are at least 18 states that fund AACs with taxpayer dollars. Conservative legislators divert funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to AACs to support anti-choice ideologies and “Alternatives to Abortion” (A2A) programs. Additionally, conservative legislators may work with anti-choice organizations in passing legislation to restrict abortion access, thus creating a false sense of need for AAC services.

Anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation seeks to deny basic human rights, including the right to create our own families, marry, or access to equal, compassionate, and affirming healthcare. Such legislation perpetuates harmful stereotypes and stigmas, while encouraging discriminatory practices against LGBTQIA+ individuals. Targeting and excluding LGBTQIA+ individuals through these laws send the message that they are somehow inherently immoral or abnormal, which can lead to increased harassment and violence, resulting in negative health outcomes. These laws perpetuate systemic oppression and inequalities, denying LGBTQIA+ folk the same rights, opportunities, and protections afforded to heterosexual and cisgender folks. We’ve seen over and over how discrimination and inequitable practices have long-lasting impacts on individuals' lives.

Denying appropriate healthcare for LGBTQIA+ individuals through anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation limits access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare. Barriers to gender-affirming care, such as restrictions on hormone therapy, can result in negative health outcomes and infringe upon individuals' autonomy to make decisions about their well-being. These barriers hinder LGBTQIA+ individuals' ability to access the care they need and deserve.  

The rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ and persistence of AACs have detrimental implications for LGBTQIA+ individuals and reproductive rights. LGBTQIA+ individuals already face discrimination and stigmatization, and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation exacerbates this oppression, leading to increased risks of negative mental health outcomes and increased risks of violence. Additionally, barriers to affirming and competent care perpetuates health disparities and hinders individuals' autonomy to make decisions about their reproductive health and well-being.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of these issues and their roots in conservative and white supremacist ideologies is crucial to addressing LGBTQIA+ rights and reproductive justice. By acknowledging and addressing the root causes of anti-LGBTQIA+ rights and the harmful practices of AACs, we can take more inclusive and comprehensive approaches to create a truly equitable society. These approaches respect the individualism, autonomy, and rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, while advocating for comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all. 

To create meaningful and sustainable change, it is essential to educate the public about the harmful effects of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, AACs and their negative impacts, and supporting organizations that defend LGBTQIA+ rights and reproductive justice. Additionally, advocating for policies that protect the rights and well-being of all individuals is essential in dismantling systemic barriers and promoting inclusivity. By working together and challenging anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and harmful practices of AACs, we can contribute to the creation of a more equitable and inclusive society that upholds the rights of all individuals.


Equity Forward thanks Heron Greenesmith from PRA who provided their perspective and expertise on this topic.