Human Relations Commission Urges Expanding PA Anti-Discrimination Law, Would Include Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression in Pennsylvania Human Relations Act
Posted on March 6, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
HARRISBURG, Pa — Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Chairperson Stephen A. Glassman announced today that the commission is strongly urging the legislature to pass House Bill 300, which was introduced Wednesday, and would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, disability and familial status.
“Ensuring that Pennsylvanians are free from discrimination is crucial, especially in difficult economic times,” Glassman said. “Discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and education is illegal in Pennsylvania, but lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are currently excluded from these protections.
“House Bill 300 will help guarantee full equality for everyone in this great commonwealth.”
HB 300 has bipartisan support from 79 sponsors in the House of Representatives. The commission has supported passage of similar bills introduced in past legislative sessions.
The bill defines sexual orientation as actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. It defines gender identity or expression to mean actual or perceived gender identity, appearance, behavior, expression or physical characteristics whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth.
“Our statistics show that discrimination complaints rise sharply when the economy is in decline,” Glassman said. “As economic stresses increase and people look for someone to blame for their difficulties, frequently the targets are those who are perceived as different because they are minorities. Passing this bill would serve as a timely illustration of our commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens and ensuring equal opportunity for all.”
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