While the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups listed by the remained flat in 2022, the movement had one of its most successful years peddling anti-LGBTQ legislation as nearly half of the states saw anti-LGBTQ bills introduced again in 2022, many with an anti-trans focus and guised to protect “religious liberty.”
The legislative push was accompanied by dozens of anti-LGBTQ attacks and confrontations with hate groups at Pride events and other public events featuring LGBTQ performers while fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people again numbered more than three dozen incidents.
In addition, anti-LGBTQ politicians and personalities – many using social media accounts to peddle pseudoscience and spew demonizing rhetoric – targeted LGBTQ people and community spaces, public schools and teachers, libraries and librarians, and hospitals and doctors for campaigns of harassment and intimidation.
Anti-LGBTQ legislation and administrative actions set the tone for much of 2022. In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a so-called “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law, restricting information about LGBTQ people in that state’s public schools and leaving LGBTQ young people in fear for their safety. SPLC filed suit in 2022 on behalf of three families seeking to overturn the measure.
Right-wing politicians introduced anti-LGBTQ legislation in 23 states in 2022. In Texas conservative elected officials fought to prevent LGBTQ families from adopting children, used the state child welfare agency to harass families with transgender children – so much that some decided to flee the state – and, sought to create a state database of transgender people.
Right-wing politicians and political groups used anti-LGBTQ disinformation and propaganda to fuel their campaigns in the 2022 election cycle, even using another public health crisis – mpox – to scapegoat LGBTQ people for political gain.
While LGBTQ politicians reported harassment and even at least one bomb threat in 2022, right-wing politicians and campaigns continued to embrace and amplify anti-LGBTQ conspiracies with a focus on conspiracies related to transgender healthcare – some even initiating divisive ad campaigns targeting Black and Spanish-speaking voters.
The anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and propaganda used by right-wing politicians to justify their electoral campaigns, legislative and administrative attacks was echoed by right-wing personalities on mainstream and social media with the result of helping anti-LGBTQ hate groups raise millions of dollars, further inflaming anti-LGBTQ sentiment and provoking campaigns of violence, harassment and intimidation from right-wing extremist groups.
Throughout the year, LGBTQ people and spaces were targeted for organized campaigns of harassment by hate groups across the country. In June, SPLC documented a pattern of right-wing social media behavior leading up to the arrest of 31 members of the hate group Patriot Front as they approached a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Pride event. Specifically, right-wing personalities continued to use social media to spread and amplify anti-LGBTQ propaganda, especially about transgender people, which resulted in the mobilization of anti-LGBTQ extremist groups.
In 2022, campaigns of harassment have been documented against LGBTQ events including Pride celebrations, LGBTQ nightclubs and drag performances in public spaces, public libraries, and children’s hospitals. While many were attended by white nationalists, SPLC also documented how Proud Boys – a general hate group with ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection – appeared at dozens of LGBTQ and reproductive justice events in 2022, including events at public libraries, outpacing their 2021 mobilizations.
Tragically, 2022 saw the deadliest single attack against LGBTQ people since the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016 when five people were killed at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. An SPLC report contextualized the attack and documented how right-wing anti-LGBTQ abuse and violence has created an untenably hostile climate for LGBTQ people in the United States in 2022. Survivors of the mass shooting testified to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about their experience and urged elected officials to focus their efforts on ending gun violence and protecting LGBTQ people. Transgender, and especially Black, Indigenous and other transgender people of color continued to be at higher risk of experiencing violence in 2022, as at least 35 transgender people were killed in the United States.
In June, the Supreme Court of the United States released its decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Whole Women’s Health that overturned the precedent establishing the constitutional right to abortion set in Roe v. Wade (1973). In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the Court should reconsider past cases involving similar legal claims, including cases in which the court overruled state bans on same-sex intimacy and marriage equality. In response, Congress adopted and President Biden signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act to federally protect marriage rights of same-sex couples. At the same time, hate groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council used the opportunity to repeat false and dangerous rhetoric equating LGBTQ relationships to pedophilia and falsely claiming that marriage equality will result in the oppression of Christians.
The cycle of anti-LGBTQ extremism will continue. Right-wing politicians continue to spread disinformation, which is echoed across mainstream media channels, publications and by right-wing social media accounts and then used by anti-LGBTQ politicians to enact harmful legislation that fuels violence against LGBTQ people. This “mainstreaming” of anti-LGBTQ extremism and violence will perpetuate the already-hostile social and political environment that LGBTQ people inhabit and that negatively affects their health, safety and mental and physical well-being.
Specifically, censoring or eliminating inclusive education, sex education and LGBTQ representation in schools and libraries will continue to be a focus of the anti-LGBTQ movement. Curriculum-censoring groups masquerading as representing all parents continue to exert undue influence over local school boards and in other local elections. Expect to see more legislation that restricts and denies affirming care for transgender youth and demonizes at-risk LGBTQ youth.
This targeting of transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming youth is not new, but the all-out mischaracterization of gender-affirming care on a state level and criminalization of it as child abuse are extreme escalations. The attempt by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to identify and compile a list of transgender people in the state and the Club Q mass shooting are especially troubling and ominous signs that the cycle of anti-LGBTQ extremism is continuing and that the anti-LGBTQ movement is willing to convert their hateful rhetoric into action.
Anti-LGBTQ groups in America oppose LGBTQ rights but also generally support heterosexism, an ideology that assumes heterosexuality is the only “normal” sexuality, and/or cisnormativity, an ideology that assumes one’s gender identity always matches the sex one was assigned at birth. Anti-LGBTQ groups primarily consist of Christian Right groups but also include such organizations as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) that purport to be scientific. Anti-LGBTQ groups in America have employed a variety of strategies in their efforts to oppose LGBTQ rights or support heterosexism and/or cisnormativity, including engaging in the crudest type of name-calling.
Anti-LGBTQ groups on the SPLC hate list often link being LGBTQ inherently to criminal behavior; claim that the concept of marriage equality and LGBTQ people in general are dangers to children and families; contend that being LGBTQ itself is dangerous and support the criminalization of LGBTQ people and transgender identity. These groups also believe in a false conspiracy that LGBTQ people seek to destroy Christianity and the whole of society. More recently, hardline anti-LGBTQ groups have promoted their discriminatory laws and policies that limit the rights of LGBTQ people under the guise of religion, blurring the lines between the separation of church and state and discarding anti-discrimination civil rights policies.
Many leaders and spokespeople of SPLC-designated anti-LGBTQ groups have used degrading and derogatory language to describe LGBTQ people. Others disseminate disparaging information about LGBTQ people that are simply untrue – an approach no different from how white supremacists and nativist extremists propagate lies about African American people and immigrants to make these communities seem like a danger to society. Viewing LGBTQ people as unbiblical or simply opposing marriage equality does not qualify an organization to be listed as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
2022 anti-LGBTQ hate groups
Abiding Word Baptist Church, Revival Baptist Church
All Scripture Baptist Church
Alliance Defending Freedom
American College of Pediatricians
American Family Association
Tupelo, Mississippi *
Franklin , Pennsylvania
Powder Springs Georgia
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
ATLAH Media Network
New York, New York
Campus Ministry USA, The
Terre Haute, Indiana
Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM)
New York, New York
Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media
Concerned Christian Citizens
D. James Kennedy Ministries
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
North Royalton, Ohio
Faithful Word Baptist Church
Family Research Council
Washington, District of Columbia
Family Research Institute
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Family Watch International
First Works Baptist Church
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.)
Downers Grove, Illinois
Illinois Family Institute
Tinley Park, Illinois
Liberty Baptist Church
Rock Falls, Illinois
Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
Pacific Justice Institute
Santa Ana, California
Pass the Salt Ministries
Pilgrims Covenant Church
The Pray in Jesus Name Project
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Public Advocate of the United States
Revival Baptist Church
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Scott Lively Ministries
Stedfast Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Fort Worth, Texas*
Strong Hold Baptist Church
Sure Foundation Baptist Church
Spokane Valley, Washington
Tom Brown Ministries
El Paso, Texas
True Light Pentecost Church
Spartanburg, South Carolina
United Families International
Verity Baptist Church
Warriors for Christ
Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Westboro Baptist Church
World Congress of Families/International Organization for the Family