California Lawmakers Pass Bill to Protect Rights of LGBT Seniors

The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights, introduced by California State Senator Scott Wiener, was approved by the California State Assembly on Tuesday and will now move onto the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

SB 219, also referred to as the LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights,  will protect seniors in nursing facilities from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and HIV status.

The text of the bill states that “the purpose of this act is to accelerate the process of freeing LGBT residents and patients from discrimination, by both specifying prohibited discriminatory acts in the long-term care setting and by providing additional information and remedies to ensure that LGBT residents know their rights and have the means to vindicate them.”

Nursing facilities will no longer be permitted to deny admission to individuals who identify as LGBT, nor wwill they be able to transfer patients to other facilities based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, this will require the use of preferred names and gender pronouns for all seniors within these facilities. Under this new bill, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals will be assigned rooms based on their gender identities.

This bill has received support from many human rights and LGBT organizations in California.

In a statement about SB 219, Senator Wiener stated, “these LGBT seniors are the pioneers who fought for and won the rights and freedoms so many of us enjoy today. Supporting these heroes is a moral imperative, especially as they face discrimination, invisibility, unique health challenges, and frequent lack of family support. The LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights will help our elders age with the dignity and respect they have earned a hundreds times over.”

Sources: SFist 5/31/17, Equality California, Scott Wiener 9/12/17, California Legislative Information

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