An ordinance protecting gay and transgender rights was overturned in Houston yesterday. HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) was a ballot question that protected against the discrimination of people based on gender, sexual orientation, age, race, gender identity, and other categories of discrimination in housing and the workplace.
According to the Washington Post, those against the bill said it infringed upon their religious liberty. In the days leading up to the ordinance, they focused on the issue of transgender use of public restrooms.
The idea that allowing transgendered individuals access to the bathroom based on the gender they identify with (rather than the one they’re born with) would somehow lead to sexual assault is a favorite myth of many right wingers and religious conservatives. Other cities in Texas, as well as the states of Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky, have passed similar “bathroom bills.” Literally 0 assaults have happened in that time.
HERO was first passed in May 2014 with support from Houston’s openly gay Mayor Anisse Parker. Opponents of HERO say the law is at best redundant because all these protections are guaranteed under federal law, and the only thing this accomplishes is infringement on their religious liberty (to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, but this last part goes unsaid).
Focusing on the sexual assault bogeyman tricks people into voting against their own interests, and it’s despicable. Yes, men dressing up as women and assaulting women in the bathroom would be a terrible thing. A zombie apocalypse would also be a terrible thing. Both are fears based on fictional occurrences. One happens to dictates policy anyway.
[Gawker] Featured image via screen grab