LGBT anti-discrimination bill advances in state Senate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity is over a first hurdle in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The Urban Affairs and Housing Committee vote Wednesday marks the furthest such anti-discrimination legislation has advanced in the chamber. It passed, 7-4, after proponents defeated an effort to add specific exemptions for religious organizations, 6-5.

The bill would add the categories of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression to a law that empowers the state Human Relations Commission to investigate complaints of discrimination in employment and housing because of someone’s race, sex, religion, age or disability.

The commission can impose civil penalties, such as back pay or damages.

A bill prohibiting such discrimination in public services is stalled in a separate committee.

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