Pride Under Attack” is a series of research investigations carried out by Univision’s elDetector, Lupa, Data Crítica, and DDIA, with support from the Consortium to Support Regional Journalism in Latin America (CAPIR) led by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). This article was also published in Spanish, with reporting made by Dayimar Ayala Altuve.

Article 4 of 4 - May 17, 2024

One of the most dangerous effects of misinformation is the laws that stem from it. To draw attention to this issue, on this International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Univision’s elDetector, Lupa, Data Crítica and the Digital Democracy Institute of the Americas (DDIA) mapped, with interactive graphics, bills aimed at undermining the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals that are based on false or hate-filled concepts.

In this latest installment of the series "Pride Under Attack," the consortium looks at legislative proposals and laws in five states in the United States with the largest Latino populations: Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas. Together, these territories are home to over 40 million Hispanics, a number larger than the entire population of Canada.

From 2020 to 2023, at least 124 bills were introduced attempting to reduce, limit, or eliminate the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the five states. Eighteen of the 124 proposals passed and are now law. The exception is New York, where none were presented. These data were compiled over the past four years by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In 2020, only six legislative proposals identified as anti-LGBTQ+ reached lawmakers in these states and none were approved, yet in 2023 (the most recent year completely monitored by the ACLU), 77 bills were introduced, and 11 became law.

ACLU (which provided the database from 2020 to 2023 for this report) breaks down the 18 laws into a series of categories:

  • Under laws that "delimit civil rights" of LGBTQ+ individuals, ACLU gathers initiatives aimed at ensuring "individual safety," "decency," and "decorum," and establishes limits on the use of public space. For example, a law passed in Florida in 2023 stipulates that the use of bathrooms must correspond to sex assigned at birth. This rule is associated with the unfounded narrative that transgender individuals pose a risk to society, harass children, and attempt to indoctrinate them into being homosexual, a false narrative spread to demonize and dehumanize these individuals.

  • Under laws that restrict LGBTQ+ people's access to healthcare is one from last year in Texas to prohibit public authorities from providing medical care to minors for gender-related treatments or procedures. This initiative is based on the idea that the so-called "traditional family," that is, one consisting of a cisgender heterosexual man and woman, needs to be protected. 

Of the 18 laws passed in these states, several have a direct impact on educational environments. One, in effect in Florida, stipulates that state universities cannot invest in activities aimed at promoting diversity, equality, or the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Other laws undermine freedom of expression. In Texas, performances (of any kind) containing references to sexual content can be treated as criminal offenses if performed in front of individuals under 18. Arguing that these violate freedom of expression, these and other such laws are being questioned by organizations defending LGBTQ+ rights.

Among the proposals that have not become law in the past four years, many touch on sensitive issues such as projects that seek to prohibit transgender individuals from using public bathrooms and changing rooms, or participating in sports. There are also attempts to exclude transgender and non-binary individuals from basic protections under the law, including access to hospitals, according to ACLU classifications.

The below chart depicts the relationship between proposed and approved bills per year and per state over the past four years.

What to Expect in 2024?

The ACLU is monitoring bills being introduced in 2024. By the first week of May, it had identified 489 legislative proposals against transgender individuals. In Florida, there are 12 noteworthy anti-LGBTQ+ bills (one had already been signed by the governor as a new law, two were still in the legislative process, and nine had been rejected), while in Arizona, there are 11.

In Florida, two initiatives presented this year are progressing, proposing a change in the terminology in documents used in the state's juvenile correctional system. Instead of using the term "gender-specific," employees of the Department of Juvenile Justice and contracted providers would be authorized to use "sex-specific," defined solely by the individual's reproductive capabilities. 

Among the proposals in Arizona, the ACLU identified a bill that seeks to define on paper that "a woman is an individual whose biological reproductive system is developed to produce eggs" and that "a man is an individual whose biological reproductive system is developed to fertilize a woman's eggs." Another aims to shelter educators from penalties if they refuse to address a person with "names, pronouns, or titles that do not match their biological sex."

"While not all of these bills will become law, all cause harm to LGBTQ+ individuals," the ACLU warns on its website. This non-profit, non-partisan organization identifies itself as "the nation's largest public interest law firm" working to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States.

A survey published by Gallup in February 2023 indicates that 7.2% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+. Among Latino adults surveyed, 11% identified as LGBTQ+.

This is a research investigation carried out by Univision’s elDetector, Lupa, Data Crítica, and the Digital Democracy Institute of the Americas (DDIA), with the support of the Consortium to Support Regional Journalism in Latin America (CAPIR) led by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).