US: Idaho activists sentenced for protesting for LGBT rights
Twenty three activists who were arrested this February in Idaho for peaceful protests were sentenced yesterday in the Idaho Statehouse courtroom in Boise’s 4th District Court.
The defendants, part of the group ‘Add the 4 Words in Idaho’, held multiple protests in the state Capitol, blocking the entrances to the Idaho Senate Chambers last February.
Their intent was to persuade lawmakers to add legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents in Idaho’s Human Rights Act, after lawmakers refused to hold a hearing on the issue.
As spelled out in the group’s name, protestors were asking that ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ be added to the state’s anti-discrimination law.
There were over 190 arrests made before the legislative session ended in March.
Charges included misdemeanor trespassing and cost the Idaho State Police nearly $24,000 (£14,000).
In an emotional and packed courtroom each defendant was given a chance to offer a brief statement.
Amongst the defendants were two mothers who both lost children to suicide after they faced discrimination.
The defendants were then sentenced to pay court costs based on how many times they were arrested while protesting. They were also ordered to participate in community service.
Others have protested for LGBT rights in Idaho in a similar fashion. In May, protesters took to the steps of the Boise courthouse in protest of the court’s decision to stay a ruling that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.