LGBT Rights:

LGBT Rights in Kentucky

Kentucky LGBT rights have had a hard time taking hold of the state. In the 70’s many laws criminalizing sexual activity came to pass and some of those laws are still on the books. However, those laws are far from enforceable today.

Although we have come a long way from banning domestic partnerships and criminalizing the community, we still have a ways to go. Not sure about your rights in Kentucky? See our guide below.

Kentucky lgbt rights

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Chapter 1:

What are LGBT Rights in Kentucky?

LGBT rights in Kentucky is what keeps those in the community safe and free from discrimination. Although we may not yet be one of the 10 states with the most progressive laws, we’re getting there.

In 2020, Kentucky LGBT groups fought to pass a law banning conversion therapy across the state and have been working to build a fairness act to further prevent discrimination.

lgbt rights in Kentucky

Our Evolving Rights in Kentucky

Kentucky has been known as one of the states pushing for more religious freedom bills. Although we have seen more progress in Kentucky toward LGBT equality than states at the border these laws threaten Kentucky LGBT rights. Many of the religious freedom bills could make it easier for local businesses to discriminate against customers and for local schools to allow discriminatory behavior from religious groups.

Despite these setbacks Kentucky has worked toward more equal and fair practices. General LGBT rights in Kentucky are listed below.

Kentucky LGBT Stats


Total LGBTQ Adult Population.


% of Adults (18+) Who are LGBTQ


Are raising children.


Who Have Income <$24K

Chapter 2:


The case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2016 lead to the landmark decision by the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage. At this time Kentucky was attempting to not recognize the domestic partnerships and marriages performed in other states. This decision set the state back on track and has helped to make LGBT rights poll more positively across the state.

kentucky lgbt marriage

The Fight Toward Equal Marriage

When Kentucky began to pass discriminatory bills in 2014 just before the Obergefell case we saw many lawsuits against them. Namely, Bourke vs Beshear and Love vs Beshear. These two cases helped lead to the decision by the Supreme Court as they were added to the Obergefell case.  


  • All states recognize marriages performed in other states
  • Same-sex couples can file joint state tax returns
  • Employers must now offer same-sex couple spousal benefits
  • Couples have the same visitation and decision making rights as other couples
  • Now same-sex couples have the same rights upon the death of a partner
  • A right to divorce

Chapter 3:

Same-Sex Adoption

Kentucky only allows adoptions to couples who are married or single adults. Cohabiting couples are not allowed the right to adopt in Kentucky and at this moment no new legislation seems to be in the works.

With same sex marriage legal in Kentucky this opens the door to LGBTQ couples adopting or fostering but only if they want to marry or have only one person as the legal guardian.

kentucky lgbt adoption

Rights We Still Don’t Have:

  • Parental Leave Laws for Same-Sex Couples
  • Non-Discrimination Laws for Same-Sex Couples Looking to Adopt
  • Non-Discrimination Laws for Foster Care
  • Legal Right to Adopt or Foster Without a Marriage License

Chapter 4:

Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy has been disproved time and time again but it remains 100% legal in the state of Kentucky. At this point in time there are no cities or counties that have any rules against it. 

kentucky conversion therapy

Conversion Therapy in Kentucky

Kentucky LGBTQ groups have been attempting to pass a law that will effectively ban conversion therapy state-wide. Although it may be a while before this bill is able to be looked over there is a lot of hope that it may pass.

Percent of State with Conversion Therapy Ban

Chapter 5:

Transgender Rights & Hospitals

1 in 5 LGBTQ people avoid hospitals after a past bad experience. For those living with HIV or those transitioning, hospital experiences can be stressful and it can be hard to find allies.

In Kentucky we can thank Aimee Stephens, a trans woman, for giving us the right to speak out against workplace discrimination.

kentucky trans rights

Transgender Rights in Kentucky

Kentucky allows transgendered individuals to not only change their name and gender on their IDs but also on their birth certificate. However, at this time Kentucky does not give a gender neutral option nor does it allow you to make changes without going through a full gender reassignment surgery.

Driver's License

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet General Information

Kentucky Trans Surgeons

List of surgeons that perform transitioning services

LGBT Hospital Rights in Kentucky

Hospitals in Kentucky can be hard to navigate. Thanks to the HRC or Human Rights Coalition you can look up local hospitals and see their policies before going in. However, this is no guarantee that you won’t face discrimination. There are also clinics with the LGBT community in mind. If you live near an Equitas Health location you can use their LGBT focused clinics.

However, the CRFD or Consciences and Religious Freedom Division could make it legal for a health provider to discriminate against a patient based on the religious beliefs of the doctor or nurse.

Chapter 6:

Employment Laws

On June 15, 2020 a landmark decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally employment rights would extend to LGBT individuals federally. This means that your employer can not fire you for being gay, lesbian, or transgendered. However, in At-Will states you may still be in danger of being fired but given another reason to avoid a lawsuit.

kentucky employment rights

Employment Protections in Kentucky

The Supreme Court found on June 15, 2020 that employers can not fire an LGBT employee for simply being gay, lesbian, or transexual. This decision made workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in all 50 states.

Percent of Cities with LGBT Employment Protections in Kentucky

EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes

In 2018 there was a case of a funeral home director discriminating against a trans woman that reached the Sixth Circuit Court. The decision made by the court made discrimination of LGBTQ+ illegal in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. However, the case made a point that they defined this discrimination on the Civil Rights Act’s use of the word “Sex”. This case sparked the landmark decision in the Supreme Court on June 15, 2020, leading to federal employment protections for the LGBT community.

If you have been fired because of your sexual orientation or gender identity you have rights. The lawyers at Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, and Shultz can help you fight back.

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