When a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s anti-gay anti-bias law was filed in May, it raised questions about how the law would affect the state’s LGBT community.
The law was enacted in March and took effect in January 2018.
While the new law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, it doesn’t ban discrimination based on the race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or genetic information protected by state law.
The bill also bans discrimination based solely on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
That leaves a wide array of discriminatory behavior for the LGBT community to contend with.
Indiana has a long history of discrimination, from discrimination against Native Americans in the 1800s to anti-black discrimination in the 1960s.
But the law’s broad coverage of the LGBT movement and its effects on LGBT people have not gone unnoticed.
The Human Rights Campaign and other organizations have called on the state to update its law to protect LGBT people, including by barring discrimination on a broad basis based on sexual orientation and gender identity (and by providing greater protections for transgender people, by allowing them to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice).
While the law has been widely condemned as discriminatory, some of the new protections are less sweeping than others.
Some provisions of the law are more targeted at discrimination based upon gender identity and expression, such as prohibiting discrimination on an individual basis based upon the person’s gender identity in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations.
But others, such a ban on discrimination based primarily on sexual identity, are more general.
That’s because the protections are broad enough that they can cover discrimination against people based on many different characteristics.
For example, a person may not be considered transgender if they have the gender identity that’s assigned to them at birth.
And it’s possible that a person could be treated differently based on their sexual orientation.
Indiana’s bill also includes language that would allow people who are transgender to be fired from their jobs if they’re accused of sexual assault or rape, or if they’ve had a sexual partner who was transgendered.
In a statement to HuffPost, the Indiana Equality Alliance, a group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, argued that the law should not be interpreted as broadening the scope of discrimination.
In its statement, the group pointed to an example of discrimination against a trans man who was fired from his job for wearing pants in front of a group of people, even though his pants fit him.
“The EEAC, as well as the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and Indiana State Attorney General’s Office, have expressed concern about the broad language of the proposed law,” the statement said.
The Indiana Equality Coalition, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, told HuffPost that the EEAC’s statement was wrong.
“We think the language of this proposed law does not include protections for people who identify as transgender,” said Jodie Emery, executive director of the Indiana Pride Alliance.
“They’re not even looking at whether someone is transgressed or transwoman or transmen, they’re just looking at gender identity.”
The new law also includes new language on gender identity protections.
It now defines gender identity as “the identity, appearance, behavior, or expression of a person with a gender different from the sex assigned at birth.”
That language includes sexual orientation as well, but not gender identity or expression.
It also includes a clause that would expand the definition of sexual harassment to include “sexual conduct” in which a person does something that could be construed as sexual.
That provision would make it illegal to “harass, harass, threaten, or retaliate” against someone because of their gender identity by “injuring, threatening, or otherwise attempting to harm them.”
Emery said that while that language sounds good in theory, it’s likely to be difficult for people to defend themselves if they are the target of sexual abuse.
Emery added that, while the law is vague, it would still have to be enforced.
“It’s going to be hard to defend a trans woman against sexual assault and harassment because they may not know if they can prove that the sexual conduct occurred,” Emery told HuffPost.
“That’s what we’re seeing in the new laws and the state is very much afraid of the transgender community.”
The Indiana bill, however, is not the only bill that has sparked concern about LGBT people’s rights.
The state’s newly enacted civil rights law, House Bill 1523, would expand protections for LGBT people in a wide range of areas, including marriage equality, adoption, public accommodations, and workplace discrimination.
The new bill would also make it easier for businesses to refuse service to people on the grounds of their sexual identity.
A handful of other anti-LGBT bills have passed the Indiana legislature in the past year, and the Indiana Human Rights Commission has already proposed rules for how businesses could handle transgender people.
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