By Matthew Lavietes
NEW YORK, May 11 (Openly) - In less than five months, 2021 has become the "worst year" in recent history for LGBT+ rights in the United States, with dozens of gay and transgender rights-related bills passed by state legislatures, a leading advocacy group said on Tuesday.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said that 18 "anti-LGBTQ" state bills were signed into law this year - beating 2015 when 15 such bills were enacted - in what it described as an "unprecedented war" on the LGBT+ community.
Seven of the laws restrict trans children from competing in sports, while others ban medical care for trans youth and allow parents to opt their children out of LGBT+-related subjects in school.
More than 250 LGBT+ rights-related bills have been introduced by state legislatures this year, the HRC said, reflecting a fiercely fought U.S. culture war between LGBT+ advocates and conservatives, as well as some religious groups.
"This crisis cannot be ignored and necessitates concrete action from all those with the ability to speak out," said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement.
"These bills are not only harmful and discriminatory, but also represent a failure in our democracy and the commitment elected officials make to protect and serve their constituents."
Supporters of the moves said they wanted to protect the rights of girls and women in schools' sports and prevent young people from taking medical decisions they might later regret.
While many state legislatures have passed laws restricting LGBT+ rights, the federal government under President Joseph Biden has expanded them through executive orders.
During his first days of office, Biden signed executive actions directing federal agencies to extend equal rights safeguards to sexual minorities and allowing trans Americans to join the military, a reversal from the Trump administration.
(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes @mattlavietes; Editing by Katy Migiro and Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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