Food & Friends Praises Passage of Two Bills to Support LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors Living with HIV

- October 7, 2020

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Abigail Seiler, Food & Friends
(202) 269-6875, aseiler@foodandfriends.org

Food & Friends Praises Passage of Two Bills to Support LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors Living with HIV

Bills would provide needed protections in public services and accommodations for both groups and is an important first step in both jurisdictions.

WASHINGTON, DC (October 7th, 2020)— Yesterday, October 6th, both the D.C. Council and the Montgomery County Council passed legislation aimed at protecting LGBTQ older adults and older adults living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination in public accommodations and programs, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. As an organization founded during the height of the AIDS crisis in 1988, we support this action to protect these populations and ensure that all older adults can have the services and supports they need to age with health and dignity.

In the District of Columbia, the D.C. Council unanimously passed Bill 23-37, the “Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2020.” The bill requires the District to include LGBTQ seniors and seniors with HIV among those with “the greatest social need” for the purpose of allocating funds provided to the District under the federal Older Americans Act. The bill also establishes an LGBTQ HIV long-term care bill of rights to enumerate explicit rights and legal protections for LGBTQ seniors and people with HIV in long-term care. D.C. joins only a handful of other states, such as California, Massachusetts, and Illinois to have these protections for these subpopulations of older adults.

The Older Americans Act funds programs such as home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation services, and other home-based and community services that older adults need in order to live healthier lives. Adding these populations to the “greatest social need” targeting language opens the door to more specific programming and funding for these populations and their specific needs. According to D.C. Health, 51.4% of the people living with HIV in the District of Columbia were over the age of 50, with 22.1% being over the age of 60.

We are thankful to the entire Council, especially Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Brandon Todd, for their support of this legislation.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the County Council passed Bill 28-20 unanimously, which expands protections in facilities such as nursing homes, healthcare, and personal care facilities. The Montgomery County legislation bans facilities and their employees from discriminating based on gender identity and expression and HIV status. The bill also provides protections against some of the scenarios LGBTQ seniors face all too regularly, such as not being allowed to room with a same-sex partner, use of improper pronouns, and gender misassignment. As of 2018, 46.9% of Montgomery County’s residents living with HIV were over the age of 50, with 18.5% over the age of 60, according to the Maryland Department of Health. We are especially thankful to Councilmember Evan Glass, the Council’s only openly LGBTQ member, for his advocacy on this legislation.

Food & Friends is excited to see the passage of these important bills by jurisdictions in which we serve many LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV. We look forward to more jurisdictions following the leadership of our partners in the District of Columbia and Montgomery County.

ABOUT FOOD & FRIENDS
Established in 1988, Food & Friends is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides nutritionally tailored, home-delivered meals to people facing a life-challenging health crisis. We believe that food heals and this year we will prepare and deliver more than 1 million meals across 5,300 square miles to more than 4,000 neighbors – all at no charge. We help our clients feel better, connect them to their community and empower them to manage their illnesses. At Food & Friends, we are driven by a simple premise: anyone can get sick and everyone can help. www.foodandfriends.org

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