TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Florida lawmaker is facing criticism after making controversial comments about the transgender community during a Florida State House committee.

“The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come and parade before us. That’s right. I called you demons and imps,” said Republican representative Webster Barnaby.

The comments were made Monday during a committee meeting that debated a bill that would restrict restrooms according to reproductive function.

“It’s like we have mutants living among us on planet earth,” he continued, “and this bill is about public safety…People that when you watch the X-men movies.”

Barnaby unloaded on those who testified against the bill, activists and advocates in the transgender community who fear further harassment if the bill becomes law.

“How dare he feel the need to use that kind of language,” said Jasmine McKenzie.

McKenzie, who calls herself “The Voice of the South” for her work with the black transgender community in Miami said the community has a bullseye on it.

“Why are we the target? Why are we the topic of conversation? Why are they trying to erase us?” said McKenzie.

Webster later did apologize.

“In reference to my comments in Bill 1521, I referred to trans people as demons,” he said. “I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons.”

State senator Shevrin Jones tweeted: “I am lost for words. As Christians, we JUST celebrated Holy Week, a time to reflect on love shown to each of us even when we didn’t deserve it. For rep. Barnaby to use our faith as his tool to tear down, I call on him to read [Ephesians] 4:29 or 1 [Corinthians] 14:3 or James 1:26. (hashtag) shame.”

Equality Florida released a statement saying in part, “This hideous bigotry has always been at the root of the wave of anti-LGBTQ hysteria sweeping our state. Shame on rep. Barnaby for spewing his transphobic vitriol. And shame on chair Rommel for sitting idly by and allowing it to happen.”

McKenzie says the bathroom bill is just the latest sign that her community needs to shift into survival mode.

“I’m preparing the South Florida community for the worst because right now it’s not only about trans people, it’s not only about black people, it’s about people in general now, specifically the LGBTQ+, and we have to survive,” she said.

And the bill is now ready to go to the full house. Violations would lead to a misdemeanor charge, and it is one of several bills focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox