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Illinois expands protections for LGBTQ older adults

August 12, 2019

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by Kim Hunt, Executive Director, Pride Action Tank

Pride Action Tank applauds Gov. JB Pritzker for signing SB1319 on Friday. The new law, which takes effect July 1, 2020, helps ensure that the needs of LGBTQ older adults and people living with HIV are recognized and supported across Illinois.

Through our OUTAging Committee, we have been uplifting the voices and concerns of LGBTQ older adults. The committee organized OUTAging: Summit on Our Possibilities in 2017 to hear what LGBTQ older adults want and want others to know about them. We heard over and over again about the fear of LGBTQ older adults becoming invisible in mainstream care facilities and the need for LGBTQ cultural competency in facilities that care for older adults.

SB1319 amends the Illinois Act on Aging to add LGBTQ and HIV status to the definition of communities of “greatest social need.” Illinois is the first state to include HIV status and only the third to include LGBTQ in the definition. The new law will also protect Illinoisans from discrimination in assisted living and shared housing facilities. The governor’s signature on the bill paves the way for requiring facilities to demonstrate their LGBTQ cultural competency.

We also send thanks to the bill sponsors, State Sen. Ram Villivalam and State Rep. Theresa Mah, to Equality Illinois for shepherding the bill through the Illinois General Assembly, and to SAGE for working across the country to ensure that state laws recognize and address the needs of LGBTQ older adults.

The OUTAging Committee includes LGBTQ older adults and representatives from AARP, Affinity Community Services, Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health and SAGE, the national leader in advocacy and service for LGBTQ older adults. The committee is a working group of Pride Action Tank, which is a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Categorized under Advocacy and Illinois.

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