ORLANDO, Fla. (The Hill) — A digital traffic sign in Florida was hacked Wednesday to display a concerning call to “Kill All Gays.”
Photos of the altered sign, which was placed at a cross-section in Orlando’s Lake Nona neighborhood, were posted to social media and reported in the Orlando Sentinel.
Orlando Police Department officials confirmed to News 2’s parent company, Nexstar, that officers responded to the scene, located at Lake Nona Boulevard and Nemours Parkway around 3:54 a.m., where they found the sign that appeared to be tampered with.
“Hate has no place in Orlando and this disgusting display is not who we are as a community. To Orlando’s LGBTQ+ residents and visitors: you are respected and valued here,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a tweet. “And we won’t be deterred in our efforts to ensure that our city is inclusive for all.”
Many online pointed out the timing of the incident, which came the same day Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills directly related to LGBTQ communities in the state. These included Florida Senate Bill 254, which prevents transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming health care. Additionally, DeSantis signed an expansion of Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which blocked discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in pre-K through eighth grades. The expansion of this law, which goes into effect July 1, places further limits on teaching of “human sexuality” in high schools.
Florida is one of dozens of states where conservative lawmakers are honing in on LGBTQ-related topics. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the 2023 Legislative Session logged 482 anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S.
According to the FBI’s most recent hate crime statistics reporting, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes have spiked dramatically over the past few years. The data, which only includes a portion of participating police agencies, showed that from 2020 to 2021, hate crimes against gay men increased 41%, hate crimes against LGBTQ groups/organizations rose 70%, and hate crimes against transgender people grew 15%.
Orlando police are asking anyone with any possible information to contact OPD at 321-235-5300.