US: Idaho politician suggests protections for religious doctors who refuse to help gays

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

A Republican in the US state of Idaho has proposed a bill which would protect professionals from being forced to render aid to a gay or lesbian person.

Despite admitting that he did not know a doctor or police officer who had been forced to do so, Representative Lynn Luker outlined the proposal as a “pre-emptive” move.

He said: “The issue is coming, whether it’s 10 years, or 15, or two years.”

The measure was backed by conservatives and Christian allies, who support such a measure as they said it would protect religious people from losing their professional licences for refusing service or employment to those deemed in violation of their religious beliefs.

The state of Idaho currently requires professional licences for anyone working as a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, attorney, social worker, fire fighter, police officer, estate agent or insurance provider.

On outlining the measure, Luker noted cases in Oregon and New Mexico, where discrimination cases have been brought against services which refused to cater for gay couples.

Idaho currently has no protections for LGBT people in its Human Rights Act.

Luker’s measure, if passed into law would mean the state could not revoke the licence of any professional refusing “to provide or participate in providing any service that violates the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

He denied that he intended to cause harm to LGBT people, however, saying emergency personnel would not be covered by the protections, as it does not allow “the intentional infliction of emotional or physical injury.”

The ACLU in Idaho noted that it could not recall any past issues this bill might address, and described it as “a solution searching for a problem”.