Supporters of Proposition 5, which would expand the anti-discrimination laws in Anchorage, Alaska, to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its legislative field, have criticised an advertisement released by opponents, calling it ‘dehumanizing.’

The proposition, which will be put to vote on April 3, will provide exemption for religious groups, though that has not prevented strongly-worded opposition to it. Indeed, the Anchorage Assembly had approved a similar ordinance in 2009, but it was vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Now, opponents of the proposition have released an ad, titled ‘Daycare’ (click for video), which has provoked outcries from gay rights groups for being transphobic. In the animation, a day care owner is forced to hire a ‘transvestite’ as horrified parents look with dismay. The said ‘transvestite’ looks like an unshaven, hairy-chested man in a tight, pink dress.

“If she hires him, she risks losing customers,” a female narrator says. “And if she refuses, she can be fined or imprisoned.”

Calling the imagery an “offensive, stigmatizing and distorted” representation of transgender people, Trevor Storrs, spokesman for the One Anchorage campaign said that such “distorted cartoons have been used over and over again in history to dehumanize groups.” Mr Storrs called for an immediate removal of the ad.

Jim Minnery, spokesman for the opposing camp, Protect Your Rights — Vote No On Prop. 5, stood by the ad, and in a statement to The News Tribune added that the word ‘transgender’ was very loosely defined in the law. “I think it’s a shocking flaw in Prop. 5 and shows profound disrespect to voters that the authors didn’t feel it was important to provide a definition of transgender identity,” he said.

In a televised debate, Mr Minnery had argued earlier that sexual minorities were already protected in Anchorage, which is, according to them a very tolerant and accepting city.