Massachusetts is being forced to put a transgender rights law up for public vote, after a campaign led by anti-LGBT groups.

Earlier this year the state passed SB 735, which bans discrimination basis of gender identity in businesses and other places of public accommodation.

However, anti-LGBT evangelicals led a campaign against the law, gathering signatures for a ‘Keep MA Safe’ petition calling for a public vote on the law.

The group claims the law panders to “sexual predators who claim confusion about their gender as a cover for their evil intentions”, suggesting that it would put women and children at risk. The group claims trans people will “undoubtedly abuse its existence to fulfill any number of deviant desires.”

Despite zero evidence for their claims, they have now gathered the required 34,231 signatures required under state law to send the issue to a ballot.

According to Buzzfeed, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office confirmed the threshold had been met and a vote will now be forced.

Pro-LGBT group Freedom Massachusetts says it is confident of a victory.

It said: “Legislators updated our Commonwealth’s civil rights law this year to legally protect transgender people from discrimination with the overwhelming support of thousands of businesses, faith leaders, women’s advocacy and anti-violence groups, and fair-minded residents across the state.

“It takes less than 1% of the Commonwealth’s population to force this commonsense update of our state law to the ballot in 2018.

“The people of the Commonwealth have a deep and long history of promoting fairness and inclusion. When presented with the question of whether to continue to treat transgender people as equal members of the Commonwealth in 2018, they will vote yes.”

However, trans issues have successfully been exploited previously leverage voters against LGBT rights protections, with Houston voters opting to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in 2015 after an aggressive propaganda campaign from conservatives.

HERO’s repeal means there is no protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the city.

The Massachusetts referendum will be held in 2018.