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Posts mischaracterize congresswoman’s comments on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

December 16, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Rep. Katie Porter said in a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee that pedophilia is an identity, not a crime.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Porter’s comments from the committee’s Wednesday hearing on the rise of anti-LGBTQ violence were taken out of context. The California Democrat was agreeing with Human Rights Watch President Kelley Robinson, who spoke about online rhetoric painting LGBTQ people as “groomers” and “pedophiles.” Porter said that such rhetoric amounts to falsely “alleging that a person is criminal somehow and engaged in criminal acts merely because of their identity — their sexual orientation, their gender identity.”

THE FACTS: Misleading posts about Porter’s appearance at the hearing are spreading widely on social media, distorting comments she made on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

“Rep Katie Porter (D) says pedophilia isn’t a crime- it’s an identity,” one tweet that shared a truncated version of Porter’s comments claimed. It had received nearly 21,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares as of Thursday.

But a full recording of the hearing, held in response to the recent Club Q shooting in Colorado, shows a longer exchange between Porter and Robinson. Porter first refers to a Human Rights Watch report published in August that analyzed tweets containing “grooming content.” Such content refers to the false narrative that members of the LGBTQ community are pedophiles who groom children in order to abuse them. Other posts advancing this narrative — including images and video taken out of context — have also spread online.

“The groomer narrative is an age-old lie to position LGBTQ+ people as a threat to kids,” Porter begins. “And what it does is deny them access to public spaces, it stokes fear and can even stoke violence.

In response, Robinson, who describes herself as queer in her professional biography, explains that “when we use phrases and words like groomers and pedophiles to describe people — individuals in our communities that are mothers, that are fathers, that are teachers, that are doctors — it is dangerous.” She added that the purpose of such rhetoric is “to dehumanize us and make us feel like we are not a part of this American society” and that “it has real-life consequences.”

Porter then agreed with Robinson’s assessment, stating: “I think you’re absolutely right and it’s not — this allegation of groomer and pedophile — it is alleging that a person is criminal somehow and engaged in criminal acts merely because of their identity — their sexual orientation, their gender identity.”

In reference to the posts mischaracterizing Porter’s comments, Jordan Wong, a spokesperson for Porter, told The Associated Press that “it’s clear it’s not true.”


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.