Alabama Escalates Culture War by Passing Anti-LGBT Bathroom Ordinance

On Tuesday, the city council of Oxford, Alabama, voted unanimously to criminalize people who use bathrooms that don’t match the gender listed on their birth certificates, the Anniston Star reports.

The ordinance is an even more restrictive version of North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law, which applies to government buildings and forbids city and local governments from expanding anti-discrimination laws that could protect the LGBT community. The new Alabama law makes it a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in jail or a $500 fine, for people to use bathrooms that do not correspond with their original gender.

“Citizens have a right to quite [sic] solicitude [sic] and to be secure from embarrassment and unwanted intrusion into their privacy while utilizing multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facilities by members of the opposite biological sex,” the ordinance reads, adding that “public facilities are places of increased venerability [sic] and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities.”

Council president Steven Waits said the ordinance is “not aimed to punish transgenders” but “to protect our women and children.” He noted the decision was a direct response to Target’s new inclusive bathroom policy. The retail store announced last week it would allow transgender guests and team members to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Over one million people have signed an online petition by the American Family Association pledging to boycott Target over its bathroom policy. “This means a man can simply said he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom,” the petition reads, later adding “Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims.”

No transgender people have ever been convicting of molesting women or children in public bathrooms. As the LGBT magazine the Advocate wrote, "There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators 'pretending' to be transgender to gain access to women's spaces and commit crimes against them.”

“We have not seen that,” Des Moines police officer Jason Halifax told Media Matters while discussing his state’s bathroom laws. “I doubt that's gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior's there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they're gonna behave no matter what the laws are.”

The ACLU said Friday it is considering legal action against Oxford. Legal director Randall Marshall told the Anniston Star the Oxford ordinance is yet another escalate of a “disturbing trend” in discriminatory practices against the LGBT community.

“I think the city of Oxford has raised this to yet another level by actually creating a criminal penalty for the use of a restroom,” Marshall said.

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