By Lauren Poteat, Special to the AFRO

The District of Columbia Council proposed legislation to fight for the rights of LGBT seniors.

Initiated by D.C. Council members Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Anita Bonds (D-At-Large) last week, the legislation called for protection of LGBT seniors and elderly living with HIV in long-term care facilities from discrimination.

“The legislation I’m introducing today would establish a ‘Bill of Rights’ for seniors living in these facilities, ensuring that they are treated respectfully and appropriately,” Cheh said.

The symbol used for the National Resource on LGBT Aging. The District of Columbia Council passed legislation offering protections and assistance to seniors living with HIV and LGBT seniors.

“Importantly, the legislation also mandates cultural competency training for caregivers in long-term care facilities and helping to ensure that caregivers have the know-how to provide appropriate care to these seniors.”

According to the American Psychological Association, as a group, LGBT older adults, experience unique economic and health disparities.

LGBT older adults are disproportionately affected by poverty and physical and mental health conditions, due to a lifetime of unique stressors associated with being a minority and, thus, may be more vulnerable to neglect and mistreatment in aging care facilities.

In addition, the association also goes on to state that out of the over 39 million people living in the U.S., who are age 65 or older, 2.4 million of these citizens, identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

“They may face dual discrimination due to their age and their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the association wrote.

The council’s “Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2018,” would also help to ensure that the District is capable of accessing federal funding under the Older Americans Act, in order to provide services to those Cheh deemed an “underserved community.”

“Many LGBTQ seniors and seniors with HIV report having experienced discrimination and social stigmatization throughout their lives,” Cheh said. “What’s more, these seniors are also more likely to have been subjected to institutionalized discrimination when accessing health care and social services, making them statistically less likely to seek out medical or palliative care.”

Remaining Council members, all signed the proposal as co-sponsors.