Texas lawmakers were behind 1 in 5 of all anti-LGBTQ plus bills introduced nationwide in 2023. That’s according to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political lobbying group in the U.S.
Several of the Texas bills cited by the group became law, including one that blocks trans minors from accessing gender-affirming medical care and another restricting drag performances in the presence of children.
A number of organizations, including the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, and the legal rights group GLAAD, filed a complaint with United Nations on Monday warning of a systemic attack on the fundamental rights, dignities, and identities of LGBTQ+ people.
Ariel Dulitzky, the director of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law Human Rights Clinic and a signatory on the complaint letter, said the complaint is meant to function parallel to legal challenges.
“Some of the organizations that signed the letter to the United Nations are also litigating cases in front of a federal court,” he said. “What we argue in our letter is that it’s not about each individual bill passed by the Legislature, but the whole policy that attacks the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ persons in Texas, as is the systemic policy rather than the individual bills.”
Dulitzky said he signed on in support of the letter but is not one of the authors of the document.
“What my human rights clinic did was provide legal advice,” he said. “We are asking the United Nations independent expert on human rights, on different human rights, to pay attention to what is happening in Texas. We would like the United Nations to help, and advise, and provide technical advice to Texas to better protect the rights and dignity of LGBTQ persons in Texas.”
Dulitzky said the complaint is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948.
“The first article of the Universal Declaration states that all human beings are born equal and free in dignity and rights,” he said. “And we believe that these four pillars – equality, freedom, dignity and rights – are being violated by Texas.”
The role of the UN in a situation like this, Dulitzky said, is to address both the federal and state government with any concerns they have.
“They will express their concern, problems with the different bills, ask specific questions, and provide technical advice on what are the human rights standards that Texas has to apply,” Dulitzky said. “And then depending on the responses, they will report that to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council is composed of 53 states. The United States is one of the 53 governments they will report to, and then they will report to the General Assembly probably, if there are no changes, that Texas is violating the human rights of LGBTQ persons in Texas.”
Dulitzky said the next step is for the 17 experts addressed in the letter to weigh the complaint.
“We will see if Texas decides to respond or not. That is up to the government of Texas,” he said. “We hope that they will take the advice of the United Nations, and we hope that we can also work with the government of Texas to better improve the protection of human rights, not only of LGBTQ, but by everybody else, to create a more just and equal society in our state.”