Pa. Senate Committee Approves LGBT Discrimination Protections Bill

The legislation would prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

Photo courtesy of Philly Bricks.

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee voted 7-4 Wednesday to pass legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in Pennsylvania.

The bill, Senate Bill 1307, was one of three bills Republican Senator Pat Browne introduced recently to update the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Browne’s original legislation had sat dormant in committee until he split the bill to encourage more Republicans to support it. Some legislators did not support a section of the original legislation that would’ve allowed transgender men and women the right to access public restrooms that do not identify with their birth sex.

Ted Martin, the executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, applauded the committee on taking action.

“Today hundreds of LGBT people and their allies called on the legislature to take action on this important issue, and we are glad that they finally did,” Martin said in a statement.

The measure will now go on to the full Senate for consideration. Religious houses of worship and faith-based schools are exempt.

Browne’s Senate Bill 1316, which includes the prohibition of discrimination in public accommodation, awaits a hearing in the State Government Committee.

A similar bill, the PA Fairness Act, has long awaited a committee hearing from the State Government committee. The bill’s sponsor and co-sponsor have recently filed a discharge petition to free-up the bill and bring it directly to the floor for a vote.

There are currently no federal or state protections from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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