Tlingit and Haida shows support for bill that would ban discrimination of LGBTQ+ Alaskans

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson in his office. (Photo by Claire Stremple/KTOO)

On Tuesday, the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska issued a statement of support for a bill in the Alaska Legislature that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression or sexual orientation. 

“Our ancestors fought tirelessly for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act and it is our responsibility to continue that advocacy,” the statement says. It goes on to say that LGBTQ+ people, including youth, deserve protection and support. 

Alaska’s first out, queer lawmakers introduced the bill earlier this month. It would change the current definition of “sex” as a protected class to include LGBTQ+ identities. The bill is currently in the Labor and Commerce Committee.  

Tribal President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson said on Thursday it’s important to show support for LGBTQ+ tribal members.

“As their tribal president, I want them to know that they are loved and valued for who they are,” he said. “Every year we see it bubble up, and it’s getting worse and worse, and human rights are under attack.”

The statement comes amid what advocates feel are escalating attacks on LGBTQ+ rights from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.

A recent Anchorage Daily News investigation revealed that last year, the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights quietly reversed a 2021 decision that expanded LGBTQ+ protections in the state. And on March 7, Dunleavy announced a bill that would restrict Alaska students’ ability to live in accordance with their gender identities in school.

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