GOP Lawmaker Rants Against 'Demon' Transgender People

Florida Rep. Webster Barnaby got pushback from both Dems, Republicans after 'mutant' remarks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2023 7:22 AM CDT
GOP Lawmaker Rants Against 'Demon' Transgender People
Florida Reps. Jason Shoaf, left, and Webster Barnaby chat during a break in a legislative session on April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

On Monday, a legislative hearing was held in Florida over the Safety in Private Spaces Act, which would bar anyone from using a restroom if it didn't match the sex they'd been assigned at birth. Comments from one particular lawmaker, however, stunned colleagues on both sides of the aisle and prompted a later apology, per NBC News. That lawmaker, GOP Rep. Webster Barnaby, made his remarks after LGBTQ+ supporters, including transgender individuals, testified in opposition to HB 1521, which they say will serve as a "tool of harassment," while proponents say it's meant to protect children, per Politico.

Barnaby comes down on the latter side of things, and he didn't hold back on his feelings during the House Commerce Committee session. "We have people that live among us today on planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet," Barnaby said, noting that "God created men male and women female." Barnaby, 63, a UK-born conservative Christian elected to the state House in 2020, then went on to call on God to "rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us. That's right, I called you demons and imps, who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world."

Reaction from other lawmakers was swift. "I'm still a little bit thrown off from the last comments here," Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington said immediately afterward. Multiple Republicans also cringed at Barnaby's comments, speaking directly to the transgender advocates who'd spoken, per the Tallahassee Democrat. "I'm also a Christian man, and I just want to say to some of the folks in here who shared their testimony ... [that] you're not an evil being," said Rep. Chase Tramont, who supports the bill but didn't appear to want to align with Barnaby's stance. "I believe that you're fearfully and wonderfully made. And I want you to live your life as well."

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Moments later, Barnaby tried to walk back what he'd said. "I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons," he said, per Politico. The bill, which could lead to misdemeanor charges for those who breach it, was given the green light by the House panel and heads to the full House next for approval. (Read more transgender stories.)

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