New law bars discrimination of LGBTQ people in assisted living

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SPRINGFIELD — On Aug. 9, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law that bars discrimination against LGBTQ people in senior and assisted living facilities.

The law states that no minority group as defined under the Illinois Human Rights Act shall be the subject of discrimination by an owner, licensee, administrator, employee or agent of an assisted living facility.

The law goes into effect immediately. The bill was passed in May.

“LGBTQ older adults face many challenges as they age, including fears about neglect, abuse, and harassment because of their identities,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, in a press release. “Sometimes, LGBTQ older adults are forced by circumstances to go back into the closet as they age because of the absence of inclusive programming by service providers and a lack of affirming care in long-term care facilities. As they age, we must ensure laws and programming support and affirm them. Thank you, Gov. Pritkzer, for signing this important legislation and thank you, Sen. Villivalam and Rep. Mah, for leading the charge in the General Assembly.”

“This legislation is critical and SAGE thanks Senator Ram Villivalam and Representative Theresa Mah for taking the lead in ensuring that LGBT older people and those living with HIV have access to the services and supports they need to remain independent,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “We are proud to be working with Equality Illinois in sending a loud and clear message not only in Illinois but across the country, that LGBT elders, and those living with HIV, should not have to live in fear of discrimination, harassment, abuse or neglect. We thank Governor J.B. Pritzker for his leadership in signing this vital bill.”

“Thank you to Gov. Pritzker, as well as our friends at Equality Illinois, for understanding how important this legislation is. During our OUTAging summit in 2017, LGBTQ+ older adults reminded us over and over again about feeling invisible in senior care settings. Passage of SB1319 helps older adults know they can continue to live full, authentic lives no matter where they reside or receive care,” said Kim L. Hunt, Executive Director of the Pride Action Tank, a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

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