Kentucky Republican issues damning attack on own party for ‘tsunami’ of anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Kentucky Republican Bob Heleringer

Kentucky Republican Bob Heleringer has condemned his own political party for its “tsunami of bills” attacking the LGBTQ+ community.

Writing for Kentucky newspaper the Courier Journal, the former Representative called out the influx of bills restricting the LGBTQ+ community across the United States, claiming people’s identities are “nobody’s public business”.

The 71-year-old Republican first took aim at his own state, which he claimed is considering several bills that “attack” queer people, including “defenceless children who happen to be homosexual or transgender”.

“I wish I could blame both political parties for this cataclysm but I cannot… every anti-gay/trans bill this session was introduced by a Republican,” he wrote.

His comments come just days after Kentucky passed what was described as the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation”, which seeks to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, requires doctors to detransition young trans people and prevents schools from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with students of any age. 

The state’s legislature passed the bill on Thursday (16 March), to wide criticism from charities such as the Trevor Project, which described it as “appalling”.

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Kentucky state senator Dr Karen Berg, who lost her trans son to suicide in 2022, passionately spoke out against the bill, calling it “wilful, intentional hate”.

Bob Heleringer, who is vocally against abortion, continued in his op-ed that the attacks on LGBTQ+ rights directly contradict the “pro-life” stance that he and many of his other Republican colleagues hold.

“This is a contradictory look for pro-life Republican legislators who believe that all human life, born or pre-born, is sacred,” he wrote. 

“One cannot simultaneously defend innocent life and demean the lives of our equally innocent gay sisters and brothers.”

He added there had been “deafening silence” on LGBTQ+ issues from higher-up Republicans, including Kentucky senator Rand Paul, and that his colleagues should speak up if they support “freedom” and “liberty”.

“Does he [Paul] really believe in maximising individual freedom, or is he a ‘clanging gong and a noisy cymbal’ that tacitly condones a glaring exception based on sexual orientation?” Heleringer wrote. 

Dr. Karen Berg speaks out against anti-trans bill  HB 470 in Kentucky
Dr Karen Berg speaks out against anti-trans bill HB 470 in Kentucky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Finishing the essay, he argued that Abraham Lincoln, who wrote against slavery in 1864, would have opposed discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the present day.

“If codified discrimination against gay people and transgender children is not wrong, nothing is wrong,” he wrote, paraphrasing Lincoln’s famous quote on slavery.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), more than 410 anti-LGBTQ+ bills – with around 180 specifically targeting trans people – were introduced in statehouses across the country during the first few months of 2023. 

The HRC noted that the number of bills introduced between January and March of 2023 alone is higher than the number filed throughout the entirety of 2022.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (, or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact theNational Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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