By JENNIFER SCHULTZLE, Associated PressThe Idaho legislature on Tuesday passed a law barring people from coming out to gay or lesbian people as a condition of receiving public benefits, a measure aimed at combating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The law, sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeff Ritter, would apply to public health workers, school districts and hospitals.
The new law has drawn criticism from religious conservatives and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It comes amid a wave of anti-gay legislation in states across the country and could face court challenges.
Critics said the measure discriminates against gays and lesbians, who often live in close-knit communities and are vulnerable to hate crime because of their sexual orientation.
They also said it violates the U’thousands of years of U.N. treaty protections for sexual minorities, including in protecting their rights to be free from discrimination.
The bill passed by the state’s Senate and House of Representatives would also prohibit the state from issuing health care benefits to anyone who is or has been diagnosed with HIV.
It also bans any state agency or office from adopting policies that allow discrimination against LGBT people.
The measure was proposed in response to the mass shooting at the Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead and more than 50 wounded on June 12.
That incident prompted the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of gay marriage, in 2012.
Gay marriage has been legal in Idaho since 2012.
But the new law was passed by a vote of 52-44, after a public outcry over the Pulse shooting.
It was signed into law by Gov.
C.L. “Butch” Otter.
A state Senate committee on Tuesday also passed a bill that would ban discrimination in health care facilities based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and also require insurers to cover contraceptives.
A similar bill passed the House in June but was vetoed by Gov’ts Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Otter has said the measures are necessary to combat discrimination against the LGBT community.