North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #10 – 5 April 2021

This week saw the introduction of what is probably an historic number of bills to protect LGBTQ rights. All are much needed and way overdue. Bills further restricting women’s reproductive rights were also introduced.

After the so-called “bathroom bill,” the notorious HB2, was overturned in court, the legislature repealed only the bathroom section of the bill. It left in place the section that prohibited local governments from passing non-discrimination ordinances to protect the rights of LGBTQ people. A bill has been introduced (HB 451/SB 438) to fully repeal HB2.

The LGBTQ or gay panic defense has been used successfully in court to sway juries in cases involving violent acts against LGBTQ victims. It argues that the violent action was triggered by the actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation of the victim and, therefore, the accused should not be held accountable for an assault or even murder. It is “blame the victim” carried to its ultimate extreme. A bill (HB 449/SB409) has been introduced that would prohibit using this defense in North Carolina.

Conversion therapy is a practice using physical, psychological, or spiritual techniques to change the sexual orientation of an LGBTQ person to heterosexual—popularly called “pray the gay away.” There is no credible evidence that a person’s sexual orientation can be changed, but plenty of evidence that conversion therapy can do damage. The Mental Health Protection Act would prohibit using conversion therapy on anyone under the age of eighteen or who has a mental disability.

North Carolina’s anti-discrimination law covers only a limited number of areas and a very limited number of people—women are not protected from discrimination on account of gender and LGBTQ people are also unprotected. The Equality for All Act aims to protect all North Carolinians from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, insurance, education, and jury service.

In addition to bills expanding civil rights, bills further restricting women’s reproductive rights were also introduced. One bill (SB 404) would require physicians who perform medical abortions to distribute state-produced materials with the false and misleading claim that the procedure is reversible. The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act (SB 405) claims to protect babies born alive after an abortion procedure from being killed by the doctor. Of course, any doctor who would commit such a criminal act can be prosecuted for murder under existing law. Yet another bill with an inflammatory title, Human Life Non-Discrimination/No Eugenics Act (HB453,) prohibits abortion on account of the actual or presumed racial identity of the fetus and in cases where Down syndrome is detected or suspected.

See whole report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #10 – 5 April 2021

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