US President Joe Biden has described changes to gender laws and treatment in Florida as “close to sinful” and said Republicans’ efforts to block transgender rights are “cruel”.

In an interview with The Daily Show, he said federal laws should be passed to ban states from curbing trans rights.

It comes amid an uptick in anti-trans bills being debated in Republican-controlled US states.

Supporters say new laws are needed to protect children and help parents.

“What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. It is just terrible what they are doing,” Mr Biden said in a clip released ahead of the programme’s broadcast on Monday.

“It’s not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘You know, I decided I want to become a man or I want to become a woman or I want to change’.

“I mean, what are they thinking about here? They are human beings. They love. They have feelings. They have inclinations that are… it just to me, is, I don’t know is, it’s cruel.”

Mr Biden did not make clear what specific actions in Florida he opposes, but the state has taken a number of steps to block gender affirming care for children in recent months.

A decision by Florida’s top medical board last month is due to take effect later this week. It bans puberty blockers, hormones and surgical procedures for patients under 18.

Another Florida law passed last year, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by critics, bans teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with children under 10.

At least 385 bills about LGBT rights have been introduced around the US through 7 March, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which it said was higher than last year’s total.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, has said new rules were necessary to defend parental rights, protect children and avoid hasty life-altering choices.

Last week, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed new laws banning drag performances in front of children and restricting medical treatment for transgender youth.

Mr Lee’s office said the ban on drag shows “specifically protects children from obscene, sexualized entertainment”.

As a senator, Mr Biden voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

His views came to change, and in 2012 during his time as vice president, he spoke out in favour of marriage equality.

In his interview, Mr Biden also described an epiphany he had in high school when he saw two men kissing outside a building in Delaware.

“I’ll never forget – I turned and looked at my dad. He said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other,'” he said.

Related Topics

  • Florida
  • LGBT
  • Transgender people
  • United States