Mississippi’s HB 1523, Set to Go into Effect July 1, Permits Discrimination Against the State’s LGBT Population of More than 60,000

For Immediate Distribution
June 23, 2016

Contact:
The Williams Institute, williamsinstitute@law.ucla.edu, (310) 267-4382

Federal court in Mississippi hearing challenges to the law this week.

LOS ANGELES – Mississippi’s House Bill 1523, whMississippi Infographic 20160623-V3ich goes into effect on July 1, 2016, permits state officials, healthcare professionals, schools, employers, and wedding service providers to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious or moral beliefs.  A federal court in Mississippi will hear several cases challenging the law this week.

According to research by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, the law will negatively impact the more than 60,000 LGBT people who live in the state, including 11,500 transgender youth and adults and 3,500 same-sex couples. Survey data analyzed by the Williams Institute indicate that LGBT people in Mississippi are:

• Racially and ethnically diverse – more than 50% of LGBT adults in the state are people of color.

• More likely to be raising children than LGBT people in any other state – 44% of LGBT people in Mississippi are raising children.

• More likely to have low incomes and lack health insurance compared to their non-LGBT counterparts – 42% of LGBT people in Mississippi have an annual income of less than $24,000, compared to 34% of non-LGBT people.  Thirty-seven percent of LGBT people in Mississippi do not have health insurance, compared to 21% of non-LGBT people.

LGBT people also report having experienced discrimination in the state.  A 2014 survey of LGBT people in Mississippi by the Human Rights Campaign found that 24% of respondents reported experiencing employment discrimination, 38% reported experiencing harassment at work, 22% reported experiencing frequent discrimination at their houses of worship, and 33% of students from rural areas reported experiencing weekly harassment at school. In addition, public opinion polls have found that 81% of Mississippi residents believe that LGBT people do experience discrimination in the state.

Polls also show that 75% of Mississippi residents support protections from discrimination for LGBT people. And many large private sector employers in Mississippi, and seven of the state’s eight public universities, have adopted their own internal policies prohibiting discrimination against LGBT employees and students. However, only 6% of the state’s population has explicit legal protections from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, under a local ordinance in the city of Jackson.

Click here for more Williams Institute Research on Mississippi.

Mississippi Infographic 20160623-V3