Alert Issued for LGBTQ Travelers Planning a Visit to Georgia
Equal rights organizations GetEQUAL Georgia and Rise Up Georgia have officially issued a travel advisory to any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) person planning a visit to the state of Georgia.
According to a press release, the advisory is based on the Georgia General Assembly moving forward with two bills that would allow the government, major corporations and privately-owned businesses to discriminate, “on the basis of their strongly held religious beliefs.”
House Bill 218 and Senate Bill 129 have become the subject of serious controversy, including how the vote for senate bill was conducted. Democratic representative Vincent Fort left the room for a bathroom break and returned to find the vote for Senate Bill 129 had already taken place, according to Daniel Malloy and Greg Bluestein of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Georgia native and lead organizer with GetEQUAL Georgia Jessica Fisher spoke in the press release about the bill and how it being used to further discrimination:
“The problem with this bill has nothing to do with religious freedom -- that's covered, assured, and protected in the First Amendment. The problem is lawmakers who wish to use their religion as a means for justifying discrimination against large communities of people -- women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. A more honest name for this bill would be the Peach State Hate Act.”
Residents in Georgia and visitors from out of state are currently protected by the law from discrimination based on their religion, ethnicity, sexuality or other differences. If the bills eventually are passed into law, people can and will be turned away due to negative perceptions and prejudice.
While GetEQUAL and Rise Up Georgia are urging travelers to avoid Georgia all together, the groups have devised several points of emphasis to stay safe, including not traveling alone, visiting only LGBTQ-friendly establishments and booking hotels with a no-discrimination policy.
If the message gets through to the right officials in the state of Georgia and the bills do not pass, the GetEQUAL Georgia and Rise Up Georgia organizations have stated that they will lift the travel alert.
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