Indiana’s New “Civil Rights” Bill: Two Steps Back for the LGBT Community?

A proposed Indiana Bill purports to extend civil rights protections to the LGBT community. In practice, it may be a step back.

[DIGEST:  Indiana Star, Think Progress, The Daily Beast, Advocate]

In “an attempt to balance civil rights and religious liberty,” Indiana lawmakers have moved to amend Indiana’s Code concerning civil rights. Many argue, however, that the bill provides little meaningful protection for LGBT people, and may result in further discrimination.

On its face, the bill—known as Senate Bill 100—promises to extend the state’s civil rights to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In theory, this would mean that LGBT people are protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

However, its detractors argue that the number of exemptions and carve-outs would leave the LGBT community worse off than if the bill does not pass.

Second Nexus
Credit: Source.

The provisions related to the use of restrooms is perhaps most evocative of the mid-20th century discriminatory practice of “separate but equal” accommodations. Under the bill, “It is not a discriminatory practice or unlawful separation or segregation” to maintain separate restrooms or locker rooms for LGBT people, or to enforce rules and policies concerning their use. (The law does not, however, require the building to build new facilities or renovate or alter existing facilities.)

It is also not considered discriminatory to “establish, use, and enforce dress code rules and policies” based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As one commentator noted, this “means that if an employee is trans, and, let’s say, has a full beard, chest hair, and

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