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Kentucky’s New LGBTQ Law Ignites Protests

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky voted on Wednesday to override the governor’s veto of a bill Democrats in the state have called the “most extreme anti-LGBTQ bill in America”.

Republicans say the new law, which includes a ban on transgender medical treatment for those under 18, is meant to protect minors.

Protests erupted at the statehouse and 19 people were arrested.

It follows wider US legislative efforts relating to the trans community.

Hundreds of LGBTQ rights supporters gathered outside the statehouse in Frankfort, Kentucky, according to local media. Inside, loud chants emerged from locked-armed protestors, some of whom were later handcuffed and arrested on criminal trespassing charges after being warned.

They yelled: “When trans kids are under attack, what do we do? Say ‘no,’ fight back,” the Courier Journal reported.

The bill, SB 150, bans transgender medical treatment for minors and restricts discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.

It bans transgender students’ from freely using bathrooms, locker rooms or shower rooms that match their gender identity.

It allows teachers to refuse to refer to students by their preferred pronouns and requires doctors to stop treatment for patients who are already undergoing transgender medical treatment.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the law on Friday and in a statement said it stripped “freedom from parents” and would “cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth”.

Republican legislators in Kentucky hold a supermajority, however, and swiftly overrode Mr Beshear’s veto with a 76-23 vote in the state’s House, and a 29-8 vote in the state’s Senate.

Kentucky Senator Max Wise, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said the purpose of the law “was to strengthen parental engagement and communication in children’s education while protecting the safety of our children”.

Laws restricting and regulating the lives of transgender youth are part of a rising trend in the US, as several similar bills have been proposed – and passed – in recent years by Republican state lawmakers.

At least 10 states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee and Utah, have passed laws that relate to transgender people.

On the same day as Kentucky’s veto, West Virginia’s governor signed a bill into law that bans transgender medical treatment for minors.

Kentucky’s ban on transgender medical treatment for minors, which includes surgical procedures or the use of certain hormones, is not expected to take effect until 90 days after the Kentucky General Assembly adjourns, CNN reported.

But other measures of the bill, like the ban on teaching about gender identity in schools and restrictions around the bathroom, will take effect immediately.

“While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court,” Chris Hartman, a local LGBTQ advocate said in a statement.

Source : BBC