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Senator Wiener introduces LGBT Seniors Long-Term Care Bill of Rights

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Senator Scott Wiener introduced a Bill of Rights Thursday that would strengthen protections for LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status.

The California LGBT Seniors Long-Term Care Bill of Rights is being sponsored by Equality California.  Assemblymember David Chiu is co-authoring the legislation.

The need for the bill is backed up by research: A 2011 study conducted by the National Senior Citizens Law Center showed that 89 percent of older LGBT adults believed caretakers would discriminate against them for their sexual orientation. In addition, 43 percent stated they’d personally experienced or witnessed the mistreatment of LGBT seniors.

“Our LGBT seniors built the modern LGBT community and were on the front lines of so many battles to expand our civil rights and fight the AIDS epidemic in its earliest and most horrific days,” said Senator Wiener. “They deserve to age with dignity and respect, and that means making sure our long-term care facilities have culturally competent policies and procedures in place. While LGBT seniors face many of the same challenges that all seniors face, they also face unique challenges around discrimination, health, and potential lack of family support systems.”

Discrimination could include evicting or discharging residents from facilities based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.

If passed, this new bill would require that all long-term care facilities post a notice regarding this form of discrimination where its current non-discrimination policy is posted.

“Many members of our community do not have children or other family members to care for them, and LGBT people in long term care facilities can experience conditions that are insensitive, uncaring and sometimes hostile, forcing them back into the closet,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This bill will help ensure that all LGBT seniors receive culturally competent care, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission have given their support for the bill. 

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