Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

A sign marks an 'all-gender restroom' at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. on May 13, 2016.Reuters

The Massachusetts' House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity.

Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to voice their concerns.

The bill requires public accommodations to open their restrooms and lockers rooms to persons based on their gender identity.

In the House version, the state attorney general is mandated to issue regulations for referral to law enforcement any person who asserts gender identity for improper purpose.

Republican Rep. Marc Lombardo expressed concern that the bill would allow men to enter a women's bathroom for nefarious purposes.

"This bill before us today is not a bill that would protect rights," he said, according to the Boston Globe. "This is a bill that would take away rights from more than 99 percent of the population — the basic right to privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms, the rights of our children to feel safe in a bathroom."

Rep. James Lyon expressed concern over the safety of kids.

"This has nothing to do with transgender. It has to do with the protection of our children," he said, CBN News reports.

Rep. Elizabeth Poirier warned that a perpetrator may take advantage of the law to harm a young man or woman, saying the bill is "opening the door to this happening."

The bill will now be reconciled with the Senate version before it is sent to Gov. Charlie Baker, who indicated that he will sign the bill because of the provision on penalising anyone who asserts gender identity and misuse the law.

"We've certainly listened to a variety of points of view from many sides and have said, from the beginning, that we don't want people to be discriminated against. If the House bill were to pass in its current form, yeah, I would sign it," he said.

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