Connecticut passes transgender anti-discrimination bill

[JURIST] The Connecticut Senate [official website] on Saturday voted 20-16 [roll call] to pass a bill that provides protection for gender identity under the state's existing anti-discrimination laws. An Act Concerning Discrimination [HB 6599 text] alters existing law by including "gender identity or expression" as a protected trait for all persons with regard to employment, public accommodations, the sale or rental of housing, the granting of credit, and other laws over which the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) [official website] has jurisdiction. Proponents of the bill say it codifies a ruling by the CHRO outlawing discrimination against people who are transgendered. It also explicitly authorizes people to file discrimination complaints with the CHRO, which enforces anti-discrimination laws in these areas. The bill adds the following definition:

"Gender identity or expression" means a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth, which gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose.
The bill passed the House of Representatives last month. The Family Institute of Connecticut Action [advocacy website], an opponent of the legislation, dubbed it the "Bathroom Bill" and strongly criticized [press release] its passage. Governor Dannel Malloy (D) [official website] issued a statement [press release] lauding the bill's passage, saying that it is a "step forward in the fight for equal rights for all of Connecticut's citizens, and it's the right thing to do," and that he will sign it into law. Upon signing the legislation, Connecticut will become the fifteenth state to offer protections for gender identity.

Protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals remains a divisive political issue. Homosexuality remains a criminal offense in more than 70 countries around the world, and statistics show that anti-LGBT crimes are on the rise [JURIST report] worldwide. In the US, these crimes, in addition to the absence of state protection against employment discrimination, have been estimated to cost states millions of dollars annually [JURIST op-ed]. Nationally, measures have been taken to stop hate crimes against LGBT individuals. In March, US Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) [official websites] introduced legislation to protect LGBT students from bullying [JURIST report] in federally funded public elementary and high schools. In 2009, US President Barack Obama signed into law [JURIST report] a bill that contained a measure extending the definition of federal hate crimes to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

 

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