Georgia’s urban and suburban areas perform better each year when the Human Rights Campaign surveys and evaluates LGBTQ equality initiatives and policies. It’s also home to a growing number of well-rated companies.

Federally, however, Georgia remains among the lowest-ranked states in the nation. HRC’s State Equality Index was released last week and Georgia fell in the “High Priority for Achieving Basic Equality” category with 22 other states.

Other categories were “Working towards innovative equality”, “Consolidating equality” and “Creating equality”.

“While significant progress has been made at the local level over the past year to ensure basic protections for LGBTQ Georgians, we clearly have significant work ahead of us at the national level,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.

States were ranked on housing rights, anti-bullying policies, non-discrimination in the workplace, gender identification card updates, educational equality, anti-conversion therapy, trans health care, hate crimes, and anti-discrimination in public housing.

Georgia only fully complies with legal requirements for inclusive hate crimes. This law was passed in 2020. It partially complies with some anti-bullying laws, although falls short on several protections for LGBTQ youth and students.

work to do

Georgia scored a couple of half-scores and fell well short of the tie in another, more detailed analysis of the index.

On the plus side, the state does not prohibit surrogacy in childbirth for gay couples and does not discriminate against the adoption or placement of LGBTQ people. Georgia still has bestiality laws, although the US Supreme Court ruled these laws illegal in 2003. Georgia also criminalizes HIV transmission, which disproportionately affects gay men.

The state lacks equality laws in 11 categories HRC examined. To date, there are also no religious exceptions for LGBTQ discrimination in Georgia. Some state legislatures are constantly trying to get these policies on the books.

It could be worse. Four anti-trans laws in Georgia were up for debate but failed to move forward in 2021. Lawmakers promised to reintroduce them in 2022.

The National State Gender Equality Index can be found here and Georgia’s full report here.

Poll after poll shows the people of Georgia are behind pro-queer policies and opposed to anti-gay and anti-trans efforts. But codifying those attitudes is proving to be a challenge, Graham said.

“Despite the broad public support for these laws and policies, and the fact that elected officials across Georgia have family members, personal friends and constituents who identify as LGBTQ, we continue to lack the political will to advance these efforts nationwide,” Graham said .

“Voters across the political spectrum who support LGBTQ rights can fix that in 2022 by electing bipartisan equality legislators and constitutional officials.”

Georgia’s 2022 legislature is currently in session.