Most US voters want more protections for LGBT+ people against discrimination and violence, poll finds

Voters who know someone who is LGBT+ are far more likely to support policies protecting them

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 11 October 2023 14:29 BST
Related video: Woman confronts Mike Pence on LGBT+ rights

Most American voters believe the US needs stronger protections for LGBT+ people against discrimination and violence, while a plurality of voters believe that the nation has become increasingly politically hostile towards LGBT+ people, according to results from a new survey.

Roughly 57 per cent of respondents in a survey from progressive think tank Data for Progress believe that the US needs new laws to protect LGBT+ Americans from discrimination and violence, amid a rise in threats and legislation targeting LGBT+ people.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents believe that “the political climate has become increasingly hostile to LGBTQ+ Americans,” according to the survey.

But statements supporting LGBT+ people against political threats and discrimination and violence fall sharply along partisan lines and whether Americans are or know someone who is LGBT+.

An overwhelming majority of LGBT+ people, 91 per cent, believe the US needs new LGBT+ protections, compared to 53 per cent of straight and cisgender voters. Those protections are supported by 72 per cent of voters who know a trans person, compared to 49 per cent of voters who do not, the survey found.

And along party lines, support for those protections is favoured strongly among Democratic voters – 82 per cent – but only 32 per cent of Republican voters support them.

“In our polling, we consistently find that voters who know someone who is LGBTQ+ show higher levels of support for policies that benefit the LGBTQ+ community – even across party lines,” Danielle Deiseroth, executive director of Data for Progress, told The Independent.

“Those who know a transgender person are more likely to support legislation that protects transgender Americans and expands their rights. As right-wing politicians continue to target the transgender community, this pattern underscores the importance of elevating trans voices and increasing transgender representation across the media,” she added.

Fewer than one in three voters personally know someone who is transgender, and roughly one in five know someone who is nonbinary, the poll found.

The results follow volatile state legislative sessions across the US, where Republican lawmakers have floated hundreds of bills aimed at LGBT+ people, particularly young trans people, within the last few years.

Within the first half of 2023 alone, state lawmakers had introduced more than 500 bills impacting LGBT+ people, including 220 bills specifically restricting the rights of trans and nonbinary Americans, according to an analysis from the Human Rights Campaign.

That legislative effort runs parallel to a growing number of protests and acts of violence incited by homophobic and transphobic abuse, with a marked increase in online rhetoric against LGBT+ people fuelling offline threats, according to research from the Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

The ADL recorded 356 anti-LGBT+ incidents between June 2022 and April 2023, including 305 acts of harassment, 40 acts of vandalism and 11 incidents of assault.

Within that time period, there were more than 200 on- and offline threats to drag events, nearly half of which targeted drag queen story hours at libraries and bookstores.

The Data for Progress survey polled 1,229 likely voters between 29 September and 1 October, in a sample weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, geography, and voting history, according to the report.

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