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South Dakota House passes bill to legalise anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption

Joseph McCormick March 3, 2017

The House of Representatives in the state of South Dakota has passed a bill which would legalise discrimination by adoption agencies based on religious grounds.

The bill, SB149, was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week and on Wednesday last week passed by the full Senate.

It has now been passed by the House with 43 votes to 20.

As the House put forward an amendment to the bill, it will need to go back to the Senate for a further vote.

The bill’s main sponsor Republican Rep. Steven Haugaard, said it is “proactive and pre-emptive”, in order to allow adoption agencies to “exercise their faith, and it’s not going to impact or negatively affect the good work that they’ve done for decades.”

Governor Dennis Daugaard said he would look at the bill if it comes to his desk.

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.

“Let’s be clear. This ‘license to discriminate’ proposal is a direct assault on LGBTQ South Dakotans and their families,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

“Taxpayer money should never be used by state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against prospective parents based on factors that have nothing to do with good parenting. This measure could have consequences not just for LGBTQ couples, but for single people, divorced people, or even those of a different faith. The South Dakota House of Representatives must reject this atrocious legislation allowing discrimination contrary to the best interests of children in desperate need of loving, caring homes.”

“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,” said 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 and 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, which is common practice in adoptions.

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.

More: adoption, LGBT, religious, south dakota, Trans, US

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