Over 137,000 LGBT people in South Carolina lack statewide protections from discrimination

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2019

Media Contact
Rachel Dowd
dowd@law.ucla.edu
(310) 206-8982 (office) | (310) 855-2696 (cell)

Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing non-discrimination law would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce

An estimated 137,000 LGBT adults in South Carolina are vulnerable to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

South Carolina’s statewide non-discrimination law, the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Researchers estimate that local ordinances protect only about 1% of South Carolina’s workforce from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Local ordinances also protect only about 8% of adults from discrimination in housing and about 12% of adults from discrimination in public accommodations.

Absent a statewide law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people in South Carolina are vulnerable to discrimination and are disadvantaged economically.

FINDINGS

  • 28% of LGBT adults in South Carolina reported having a household income below $24,000 compared to 23% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 23% of LGBT adults in South Carolina reported that they do not have health insurance compared to 13% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 36% of LGBT adults in South Carolina reported not having enough money for food compared to 18% of non-LGBT adults.
  • 11% of LGBT adults in South Carolina reported being unemployed compared to 5% of non-LGBT adults.

“Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the South Carolina Human Affairs Law would protect tens of thousands of LGBT people in the state from discrimination, which can contribute to improved economic stability,” said state and local policy director Christy Mallory. “These new protections wouldn’t burden the courts or state agencies. Our research indicates that there would be only about 55 new complaints each year, and the existing enforcement system could absorb these complaints without the need for additional staff or resources.”

A 2018 poll found that 58% of South Carolina residents support laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Read the report.

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