Ron DeSantis signs five new hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills into Florida law

Ron DeSantis, in a blue tie and navy blue suit, speaks infront of a black background.

Ron DeSantis spent Wednesday (17 May) indulging in what seems to be one of his favourite pastimes – enacting new laws that will make life much more difficult for LGBTQ+ people.

Florida’s hard-line Republican governor approved five new laws targeting the queer community, including a ban on gender-affirming care, restrictions on trans people using toilets, and drag show bans.

These newly implemented restrictions come amid an already-hostile environment for queer people in the state thanks to DeSantis’ war against what he sees as “woke ideology”.

He signed House Bill 1438, restricting drag shows, House Bill 1069, which expands the state’s Don’t Say Gay law, Senate Bill 254, banning gender-affirming care, House Bill 1521, to restrict the rights of trans people to use public toilets, and House Bill 225, which restricts trans people’s access to youth sports programmes.

Two days earlier, the governor – and possible presidential candidate – signed Senate Bill 266 into law, restricting equity initiatives from the Florida education system, which pulled funding from diversity, equality and inclusion programmes at public universities in the state. 

He said that the new legislation would make Florida a “refuge of sanity”, seemingly referring to laws in some other US states, which have declared themselves safe havens for LGBTQ+ people fleeing places such as Florida.

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“We need to let our kids just be kids,” he told reporters, after signing the bills. “What we’ve said in Florida is we are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”

Human rights groups condemn Ron DeSantis’ attacks

DeSantis’ continued attacks on LGBTQ+ people have been shamed by human rights groups and progressive politicians.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president, Kelley Robinson, said “extremist” Republicans passing these bills in Florida are some of the “most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in America.”

She added: “DeSantis has made [it] clear that demonising LGBTQ+ people will be [at] the centre of his legislative agenda and presidential run.

“From doctors’ offices to classrooms, they show no shame in assaulting the freedoms of those different from them. They are trying to whitewash history and use the power of the government to punish anyone they disagree with.”

In association with several legal teams, the HRC will look to block SB 254 because of the potential damage restricting gender-affirming care could do to trans children.

Meanwhile, Lambda Legal’s deputy legal director for policy, Kristine Kippins, noted the audacity of signing the bills on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

“Governor Ron DeSantis is demonstrating an intentional, callous disregard for LGBTQ+ Floridians and, in particular, trans youth, by facilitating homophobia and transphobia and exposing his most vulnerable population to discrimination,” she said.

DeSantis’ tirade against LGBTQ+ people isn’t set to stop yet, with a sixth bill, that would discourage cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances, by raising restrictions, seemingly set to be signed into law in the near future.

The combined anti-LGBTQ+ bills signed into law exceed the past seven years of state anti-LGBTQ+ legislation combined, according to the HRC.

Speaking out against the bill, democratic state senator Shevrin Jones, who is gay, told the Associated Press: “Every parent has the right to raise their child the way they want to as long as your child is not gay, trans [or] bisexual. That’s freedom for some parents, but not for all parents.”

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