RICHMOND—The House of Delegates passed five bills addressing discrimination. The four bills passed today — along with HB 1049, passed on February 5 — would reduce systemic injustice by increasing legal protections against discrimination for Virginians. The bills now go to the Senate for further consideration.
“The House Democratic Majority is proud to stand behind these anti-discrimination bills, promoting inclusivity throughout the legal code,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said. “All people in the Commonwealth deserve fair treatment under the law.”
The bills enforce safeguards for the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, pregnant mothers and women experiencing pregnancy-related medical issues, and others. These bills also strengthen protections for victims of hate crimes on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other groups that have historically experienced discrimination. In addition, new measures would be introduced to train state employees on cultural competency regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Discrimination has no place in Virginia, regardless of circumstance. These bills will provide long-overdue protections to Virginians who have been historically subject to bigotry and prejudice,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan said. “As we move into a new decade, let’s make sure our laws leave no Virginian behind.”
Here is the list of anti-discrimination bills passed by the House:
- HB 1049 passed yesterday and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in areas including employment, public accommodation, public contracting, apprenticeship programs, housing, banking, and insurance. Delegate Mark Levine served as the patron.
- HB 581 would require the Department of Human Resource Management to develop online training for state employees addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer cultural competency. The requisite training would be completed by new employees within the first 90 days of employment, while existing employees need to undergo the training by April 2021. This piece of legislation was filed by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and passed today.
- HB696 passed the House floor today and gives localities extra authority in prohibiting discrimination relating to housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, and education on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Delegate Danica Roem patroned the bill.
- HB 787 will add hate crimes to the crimes that a multi-jurisdiction grand jury may investigate, including trespassing or damaging property where the victim was selected due to race, religion, or national origin, or assaulting a victim on those grounds. Delegate Lamont Bagby filed the bill and it passed today.
- HB 1663 expands protections from unlawful discrimination in public accommodations and employment under the Virginia Human Rights Act. The bill prohibits small businesses from unlawfully discharging employees on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, and age. The bill also adds safeguards against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to laws under which other groups currently hold such protections, and sees that more groups acquire protections from discrimination relating to credit and housing. Delegate Mark Sickles served as the patron for the bill.