Brown Reintroduces Bill to Protect Against Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Senator also Renewed Efforts to Ban So-Called Conversion Therapy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today reintroduced legislation to expand federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Many states still do not have explicit non-discrimination laws, leaving some in the LGBT community without protection. The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, education, federal financial assistance, employment, housing, credit determinations and federal jury service.

“Too many of our LGBT friends, family and neighbors face continued discrimination. That’s just wrong, and our laws should protect them from discrimination in all its forms,” said Brown. “Everyone deserves equal access to education, housing and employment. These protections are long overdue and will help us further protect LGBT Ohioans.”

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, during the federal financial assistance process, and in employment. LGBT individuals would be further protected under the Equality Act by the amendment of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991, and the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.

Brown also renewed his efforts to protect children from “so-called” conversion therapy. Last week, he helped reintroduce the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act – a bill to ban conversion therapy, condemning it as misguided and harmful. Conversion therapy or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) is a practice where a health care provider or counselor seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Brown has helped lead the fight against conversion therapy and, in May 2015, he introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution of 2015, condemning conversion therapy and declaring that it should be prohibited from being practiced on minors.

This bill would clarify that providing “conversion therapy” to any person in exchange for monetary compensation, or advertising such services, is an unfair and deceptive act or practice. Furthermore, this bill would explicitly clarify that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the responsibility to enforce this provision and would provide State Attorneys General authority to enforce this provision in federal court.

Laws to ban conversion therapy, in some instances, have been referred to as “Leelah’s Law” in remembrance of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager from Kings Mills, Ohio, who tragically took her own life in 2014 after being subjected to conversion therapy.

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