Discrimination Against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People is Generally Legal in Ohio
It is legal in Ohio to be fired from your job, denied an apartment, or refused service at a movie theater, restaurant or hotel because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. In many cities and counties in Ohio and for many government employees, these practices are prohibited, but there are no statewide nondiscrimination protections that protect all Ohioans.
21 of the 50 states currently protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, putting Ohio at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting and hiring the best and brightest professional talent. Many employers across the country and here in Ohio have extended nondiscrimination policies to cover LGBT people, but millions of Ohioans remain unprotected. According to Equality Ohio, protections are needed for everyone.
Equality Ohio is working with a bi-partisan group of legislators to pass the Equal Housing and Employment Act to end discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless voted at our September board meeting to urge our members to support the Equal Housing and Employment Act. We co-administer the Housing website, HousingCleveland.org and have heard horror stories from homeless people struggling to find housing with good credit and no criminal background who face discrimination from small mom and pop apartment unit owners who will not accept "non-traditional" tenants. We have seen from the Housing Center State of Fair Housing Report that Familial Status has become the second highest number of complaints they received in 2013 and Gender issues are now the fourth highest number of complaints in Northeast Ohio. Many of those complaints are discrimination of transgender individuals and/or lesbian and gay couples who face denial of housing because of their gender or who they establish a relationship with.
In the last five sessions of the Ohio General Assembly, legislation was introduced to protect all Ohioans from losing their job, being denied housing, or being refused public accommodations based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. On September 15, 2009, by a vote of 56 to 39, the Ohio House of Representatives passed the Equal Housing and Employment Act. The historic vote marked the first time the Ohio General Assembly has voted on legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The bill unfortunately was not given testimony or a vote in the Senate and died with the end of the 2008-2009 legislative session.
LGBT Ohioans face discrimination on many levels. EHEA would prevent LGBT Ohioans from being judged on anything other than their job performance; it would allow all LGBT Ohioans the ability to obtain the housing of their choice; and, it would allow LGBT Ohioans to be served equally at restaurants, movie theaters and hotels everywhere in the state. NEOCH urges state legislators to hold hearings on this important measure and then pass it into law.
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