Philadelphia –April 5, 2018 – Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) joined Governor Tom Wolf and lawmakers from both the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives for a news conference today to discuss legislation to combat sexual harassment.
Farnese’s anti-discrimination legislation, Senate Bill 613, was added as a part of the legislative package highlighted by the governor.
Farnese’s bill, Senate Bill 613, would expand the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in employment, public housing and accommodation.
The senator said that he proudly supports legislation to combat sexual harassment and is pleased that more attention is being brought to the issue of discrimination toward LGBTQ individuals.
He believes his measure is comprehensive, well-positioned and able to advance on its own merits. The Philadelphia lawmaker fears that combining Senate Bill 613 into this legislative package will open his proposal to significant changes that may lessen protections for the LGBT community.
He stressed that each specified protection included in his legislation is essential, and the measure cannot be watered-down to only include protection for LGBT persons in the workplace.
Farnese released the following statement after today’s press conference:
“I think there’s a lot of momentum behind the #MeToo movement and making changes to end the culture of harassment in the work place, which I’m glad to see and fully support.
“Admittedly, though, I am concerned about the inclusion of my anti-discrimination bill in this package.
“This is an issue I’ve been pushing for almost a decade, so any time people are reminded that we still need comprehensive anti-discrimination protections, I think it’s a good thing.
“However, this package of bills relates to employment protections and SB 613 is much broader than that. My bill would protect LGBTQ persons from discrimination in three critical areas: employment, housing, and public accommodations.
“By grouping SB 613 in this package, my fear is that we will now see it picked apart and cut down to just providing anti-discrimination protections in the workplace. This is obviously a very real possibility because we saw it happen in Harrisburg just last session.
“Keeping SB 613 whole is essential. Those in the LGBTQ community deserve to be treated equally at work, at home, and in public. Period.
“Again, I’m happy the issue of discrimination is getting recognition but I want it to be absolutely clear that SB 613 is not just a workplace protection bill. It provides comprehensive, state-wide anti-discrimination protections, and all those pieces need to remain intact.
“I’ve communicated my concerns to the Governor and I hope he will stand with me and members of the LGBTQ community and demand that any anti-discrimination bill that comes to his desk include all three areas of protection.”