The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Equality Texas, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law signed a joint letter urging the United Nations’ human rights experts to call on the federal and Texas state governments to protect LGBTQ+ people.
In the letter, the advocacy groups argue that Texas has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty, which recognizes the rights of all humans to enjoy “civil and political freedom and freedom from fear.”
The ICCPR, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1976 and enforced 10 years later, was ratified by the U.S. in 1992. As a result, it became “the ‘supreme law of the land’ under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives ratified treaties the status of federal law,” according to the ACLU.
“Thus, the United States—including its federal and state entities—is obligated to act in accordance with this treaty,” the letter says.
As curtailing access to gender-affirming care and trans people’s participation in sports has become a political crusade among the Republican Party in the past few years, Texas’ GOP government has engaged in some of the country’s harshest attacks on LGBTQ+ rights.
“We are now in crisis mode in Texas,” Johnathan Gooch, the communications director at Equality Texas, told HuffPost. “Hopefully this petition to the U.N. will start to remind people about the rights that they have under international law and hopefully we can begin to hold state lawmakers accountable for the harm they’re doing to our community.”
Last year, Texas passed seven anti-LGBTQ+ laws, including banning trans athletes from participating in sports at the college level and barring trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care.
In 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) instructedthe Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families of transgender minors on the grounds that affirming a child’s gender identity amounted to “child abuse.”
State Attorney General Ken Paxton has similarly initiated investigations into pharmaceutical companies that sell puberty blockers, according to The Texas Tribune. He has also demanded medical records from Texas patients who sought gender-affirming care at a children’s hospital in Washington state.
These laws and investigations have created a culture of fear, the letter says, and have trickled down into all parts of Texas life. An instance of this occurred last year, when a trans boy in Texas was kicked out of his school playafter securing a leading male role.
Gooch said he has seen families make the heartbreaking decision to split up, with one family member staying and working in Texas and the other moving out of state in order to obtain gender-affirming care for their trans child.
The U.S. Department of Education has made efforts to clarify rules to protect queer and trans students in schools, but Gooch said the Biden administration needs to have a more robust response to keep the rights of LGBTQ+ people safe.
“Texans’ rights to privacy are being violated by these laws and policies,” Gooch said. “No one should have to bring medical records or a birth certificate that was issued near or at the time of birth just in order to play on a sports team or be in a play.”