Special Report

These Are the 23 States with Little or No Protections to LGBTQ People

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

16. Ohio
> Pct. of population that identifies as LGBTQ: 4.3%

Ohio excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from its hate crime laws and permits the “panic defense,” allowing defendants to argue temporary insanity regrding assault or murder charges stemming from unwanted same-sex sexual advances. Ohio allows discrimination in Medicaid policy, private health insurance, and state employee health benefits based on gender identity. Medical professionals in Ohio may cite religious belief to deny services based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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17. Oklahoma
> Pct. of population that identifies as LGBTQ: 3.8%

Oklahoma is one of nine states that rank particularly low on LGBTQ equality because of numerous laws that target LGBTQ people rather than just excluding them from anti-discrimination laws. The state has a broad interpretation of religious exemption laws that includes denying child welfare services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits educators from discussing LGBTQ issues in schools.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

18. South Carolina
> Pct. of population that identifies as LGBTQ: 3.5%

South Carolina is one of nine states with a low LGBTQ rating based on numerous laws that explicitly target persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This stems mostly from its broad interpretation of religious exemptions, allowing child welfare services providers to cite religious belief as the basis for discrimination. Its anti-discrimination laws pertaining to employment, housing, public accommodation, lending, and state-employee policies exclude protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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19. South Dakota
> Pct. of population that identifies as LGBTQ: 3.0%

South Carolina is one of nine states with a low LGBTQ rating based on numerous laws that explicitly target persons based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It applies a broad interpretation of religious exemption laws and allows providers of child welfare services to cite religious belief as the basis for denying assistance based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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20. Tennessee
> Pct. of population that identifies as LGBTQ: 3.5%

Tennessee ranks near the bottom of all states when it comes to LGBTQ equality. It has no inclusionary language in anti-discrimination laws pertaining to employment, housing, public accommodation, lending, or state-employee policies. It prohibits cities and counties from passing nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ people. Its broad interpretation of religious exemption laws includes allowing child welfare service providers and medical professionals to use religious belief to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.