Changes to Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws won’t make pedophiles a protected class – on May 26, 2023 at 7:08 pm
Quick Bit: CLAIM: A Connecticut bill to change the state’s anti-discrimination laws will lead to pedophiles becoming a protected class. AP’S ASSESSMENT: False.
CLAIM: A Connecticut bill to change the state’s anti-discrimination laws will lead to pedophiles becoming a protected class.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The bill will not change any laws that criminalize acting on pedophilia, nor will it provide pedophiles with protections against discrimination, legal experts told The Associated Press. Its intent, according to the bill’s co-sponsors, is to modernize the definition of “sexual orientation” in Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws by removing language seen as unnecessary and having offensive connotations. The bill also adds age as a protected class.
THE FACTS: Connecticut is the latest state to be falsely accused of changing its laws to condone pedophilia, as social media users are claiming a bill that recently passed the state’s House paves the way for nefarious conduct with minors.
Many of the posts cite an article titled, “Connecticut follows Minnesota in first step to normalize pedophilia,” that was published on conservative news site Hot Air.
Although the article acknowledges that “the changes do not legalize pedophilic acts,” it alleges that the bill lays “the groundwork for including pedophilia as a state-recognized sexual orientation worthy of protection.” It also questions whether employers or landlords will be allowed to refuse to hire or rent homes to pedophiles.
But the bill, which was passed by the Connecticut House on May 9, would not make pedophiles a protected class, according to legal experts.
Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws currently define sexual orientation as “having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference,” while excluding behavior that constitutes a sexual offense, including any related to minors.
The bill in question, HB 6638, removes the reference to sexual offenses and provides an updated definition that defines the term more broadly in terms of gender.
“‘Sexual orientation’ means a person’s identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are romantically, emotionally or sexually attracted, inclusive of any identity that a person (A) may have previously expressed, or (B) is perceived by another person to hold,” it reads.
HB 6638 also adds age as a protected class in Connecticut, along with existing classes such as religion, national origin and sex.
A report by the House’s judiciary committee outlining the reason for the changes says, in part, that the reference to criminal offenses “plays into stereotypes connecting homosexuality, bisexuality, and criminal deviancy.”
Reps. Jeff Currey and Dominique Johnson, both Democrats and co-sponsors of the bill, told the AP that claims linking this legislation to protections for pedophilia are unfounded.
“While this new definition does remove the reference to the criminal statutes, it adds in this specific reference to gender which doesn’t actually exist in the current definition to make things crystal clear,” Currey wrote in an email. “And of course, this definition applies solely to discrimination in the workplace, housing, etc. – it doesn’t do anything to legalize any behavior that is currently illegal.”
Johnson added that pedophilia would not be protected under this legislation because it does not “have anything to do with gender.”
Anya Bernstein, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut, confirmed that the online claims misinterpret the bill’s possible impact.
“This bill will have no effect on pedophilia whatsoever,” she told the AP.
Bernstein also noted that the new language only protects people’s identity with respect to the gender of the people they’re attracted to.
“It says nothing about the age of those people, so there’s just no way to read children into its scope,” she said.
A recent bill in Minnesota that proposed similar changes to the state’s definition of “sexual orientation” led to the same erroneous claims.
Mike Steenson, a professor of law at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, told the AP that allegations about the Minnesota bill are false and agreed that statutes governing the sexual assault of minors in Connecticut will remain intact even if HB 6638 becomes law.
“There is a continuing tendency to associate same-sex sexual orientation with pedophilia, of course, which seems to be at the root of the claims that the definition of sexual orientation endorses pedophilia,” he wrote in an email. “Of course it doesn’t!”
Hot Air did not answer questions from the AP regarding the article on the Connecticut bill.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.
Originally found on AP Read More