South Dakota advances bill to legalise anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption
The South Dakota Senate today advanced a bill which would allow adoption agencies to reject candidates based on religious beliefs.
The bill, SB149, was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.
It has been heavily criticised by human rights advocates, who say it equates to a “license to discriminate” based on LGBT+ status.
It could also lead to agencies refusing to provide mental or medical health care to LGBT+ children.
As well as all this, the bill would protect agencies which refer LGBT+ children to ‘conversion’ therapies, and would mean they could not lose their licence over this.
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“This shameful attack on LGBTQ people could have serious intended and unintended consequences for those who call South Dakota home,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
“SB 149 would give state-funded adoption agencies a ‘license to discriminate’ with taxpayer money by refusing to place children in desperate need of loving homes with LGBTQ couples, single people, divorced people, or even those of a different faith. Decisions about prospective parents should be based on the best interest of the child, not on discriminatory factors unrelated to good parenting. The Senate should abandon this reckless proposal.”
“This bill works against the needs of vulnerable children in the foster care system in South Dakota by denying them access to good families and important services,” adds ACLU of South Dakota Policy Director Elizabeth A. Skarin.
“Our legislators must take a stand for all South Dakotans — and especially vulnerable children — and ensure that discrimination doesn’t get in the way of loving families seeking to provide homes for those who don’t have them.”
As well as allowing agencies to turn away LGBT+ people, it could also affect interfaith couples, single parents, married couples where one or both partners have previously been divorced.
The broad measure would also allow agencies to refuse to place a child with members of their extended family.
This latest bill is one of several pieces of anti-LGBT+ legislation to be introduced in the state.
Earlier this year an anti-LGBT ‘bathroom bill’ was withdrawn in the US state at its first stage of the legislative process.