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Elected LGBT officials key to blocking anti-LGBT laws, accdg to study

A study shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a locality has and its level of LGBT equality. But in the Philippines, there may be LGBT public officials, but they don’t necessarily advocate for LGBT issues. Instead, LGBT people are primarily seen during elections as comic relief.

TAKEN DURING A CAMPAIGN SORTIE IN MAKATI CITY, WHERE LGBT PEOPLE SERVED ONLY AS COMEDIC RELIEF

Getting seen can lead to normalization?

At least this is so in politics, with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute (Victory) releasing a new research, titled “More Than Represent: LGBT Elected Officials Drive Equality in the States”, that shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a locality has and its level of LGBT equality. There is now clear evidence that openly LGBT people form relationships with their colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and change minds about LGBT equality, as well as on votes.

Though the research was conducted in the US alone, it was still able to demonstrate that the number of openly serving LGBT elected officials in states with the Movement Advancement Project’s State Equality Index, and found that:

  • More openly LGBT public officials in a state leads to a greater number of LGBT legal protections.
  • Nearly 70% of states with five or fewer openly LGBT public officials have few if any LGBT legal protections.
  • About two-thirds of states with 11 or more openly LGBT public officials have complete or near complete LGBT legal equality.
  • 100 percent of the states with no openly LGBT legislators have few if any LGBT legal protections.

“Our analysis shows convincingly that LGBT representation matters and is a game-changer on school boards, in city councils, and in state legislatures where our equality is still debated each and every day,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory.

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Though the Supreme Court of the US already sided with LGBT human rights with the legalization of marriage equality in all states, recent anti-LGBT legislative activity have been notable, such as those in Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi. It is worth noting that there were no openly LGBT state legislators serving in North Carolina or Mississippi when the latest anti-LGBT bills were signed into law. Yet in Georgia, where there are three openly LGBT state legislators, the Governor ultimately refused to sign the anti-LGBT legislation into law.

“LGBT elected officials are on the front lines of anti-LGBT policy battles, advocating for equality on behalf of all of us. It is critical that we have more voices at decision-making tables, because it’s clear that when we’re not at the table we’re on the menu,” said Moodie-Mills.

This research brief is the first from the Victory War Room, Victory’s new campaign and communications engine.

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