The Governor of Alabama has signed into law a bill which protects anti-LGBT adoption agencies that refuse to place children with gay parents.
The bill, HB24, was passed by the Alabama Senate last month and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday.
It will protect adoption agencies that claim that religious beliefs mean they can’t place children with gay couples, by stopping the state from refusing to licence them.
“The elected legislature of this state overwhelmingly approved House Bill 24,” Ivey said in a statement.
The sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Bill Hightower, claimed that the bill would protect the agencies and allow them to continue to place children in appropriate homes.
Apparently not realising the irony of his statement, Hightower said: “The need for adoption is so high. We need to have every avenue available.”
But the legislation has been criticised by Democratic Senators and the Human Rights Campaign who say it is thinly-veiled discrimination.
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“It isn’t in the best interest of the child to deny them a qualified loving family simply because that family doesn’t share all the tendencies of the placing agency’s faith,” Senator Rodger Smitherman said.
“Plain and simple — H.B. 24 is discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem,” said Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama State Director.
“It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Alabama and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home. It’s unfortunate that leaders continue to push this bill, even as child welfare organisations, faith leaders and fair-minded Alabamians are standing up and calling this bill out for what it is: discrimination. We now ask Governor Kay Ivey to not sign into law this harmful bill.”
The only out gay legislator in Alabama, Representative Patricia Todd has said that those backing the legislation aren’t familiar with LGBT people and the issues they face.
“They make an assumption that all of us would be bad parents,” said Todd.
Other states like South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia have already passed similar legislation.
Former Governor Robert Bentley, who claimed that permitting gay people to marry would “undermine” civil society, stepped down earlier this month as impeachment hearings started against him.
A Republican-backed bill in Alabama in January would force public institutions to hire real-life bathroom police to guard mixed-use bathrooms.
The state was earlier this year ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for losing a court case over same-sex marriage.