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Virginia becomes first southern state to enact comprehensive discrimination protections for LGBT+ people

Lily Wakefield April 13, 2020
Virginia governor Ralph Northam with his wife, Pam

Virginia governor Ralph Northam with his wife, Pam. (Governor Ralph Northam/ Instagram)

The governor of Virginia has signed into law comprehensive discrimination protections for LGBT+ people, making it the first southern US state to do so.

Governor Ralph Northam signed senate bill 868, the Virginia Values Act, into law on April 11.

The act protects people in the state from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public spaces and credit applications.

Sponsored by state senator Adam Ebbin, the legislation also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability and status as a veteran.

Governor Northam said in a press release: “This legislation sends a strong, clear message — Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family.

“We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly.

No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn added: “With the governor’s signing of the Virginia Values Act, we have made discrimination against our gay, lesbian and transgender friends, family, neighbours and co-workers in employment, housing and public accommodation illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“It is now the law of the land that every Virginian can work hard, earn a living wage, and live their lives without fear of discrimination based on who they are or who they love. A tremendous victory.”

Virgina banned conversion therapy.

The signing of the Virginia Values Act comes just a month after the state also banned traumatising conversion therapy. 

A long-time ally to the LGBT+ community, Northam signed a bill outlawing the “therapy” for anyone under the age of 18, making Virginia the 20th US state to do so.

“This issue is personal for me, as a paediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” said Northam at the time in a statement to the Washington Post.

“Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”

 

More: Discrimination, gender identity, Ralph Northam, sexual orientation, southern states, Virgina, Virginia Values Act

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