The Montgomery County Council unanimously voted to enact legislation Tuesday that strengthens legal protections for the LGBTQ community.
The LGBTQ Bill of Rights expands the county’s anti-discrimination code to include gender expression and HIV status. It also explicitly bans LGBTQ discrimination in healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and personal care facilities.
The legislation, spearheaded by Councilmember Evan Glass and co-sponsored by every other member on the council, is the first of its kind in Maryland.
“Hate and bigotry should not exist in our healthcare system,” Glass said in a statement posted to the council’s website. “This legislation will ensure that LGBTQ seniors can receive the health and medical attention they need so they can age with dignity and respect.”
According to the statement, the legislation was spurred by the need to protect access to healthcare for LGBTQ seniors. Over half of those living with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 50.
“Access to safe long-term care is of dire concern for the LGBTQ community,” Associate State Director for Communications at AARP Nancy Carr said in a statement. “Discrimination at the hands of providers, threatens the very health, financial security, and personal fulfillment of too many 50-plus LGBTQ adults. We are glad to see Montgomery County take the lead on this issue and we hope it propels further action at the state level.”