A day ahead of World AIDS Day, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law that bars long-term care facilities and their staff from discriminating against any resident on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or HIV status.

“New York's seniors should be able to live their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve, free from discrimination of every kind,” said Hochul. “LGBTQIA + and HIV-positive seniors are among our most vulnerable populations, and today we are taking steps to ensure that all New Yorkers - regardless of who they are, who they love or their HIV status - find safety and support in places where they need it the most. Hate will never have a place in New York.”

The governor said the legislation fights discrimination by aiming to mitigate the isolation that many older LGBTQIA+ individuals living with HIV in New York sometimes face. The legislation is said to build on existing protections from discrimination already established in New York’s Human Rights Law.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, emphasized the importance of the bill being signed in advance of World AIDS day.

“There is a veritable ‘silver tsunami’ of complex issues as LGBTQ+ people with HIV are living longer, meaning that long-term care facilities with LGBTQ+ residents need to adjust to this welcome reality,” he said. “It’s appropriate, then, that Governor Hochul chose the eve of World AIDS Day to sign our LGBTQ+ Long-term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights into law, which will help ensure that older LGBTQ+ New Yorkers in these facilities will be protected from discrimination."

Darcy Connors, executive director of SAGEServes, the direct services division of SAGE, said the legislation protects against the denial of admission to a long-term facility, transferr within a facility or to another facility, or discharging or evicting a resident from a facility, is crucial.

"The New York State LGBTQ+ and HIV Long Term Care Bill of Rights will help combat the stigma that unjustly impacts New Yorkers living with HIV and empower LGBTQ+ elders to be open about their identities without fear of discrimination in long-term care settings,” Connors said. "LGBTQ+ elders and those living with HIV have waited far too long for these safeguards that enable them to age with the dignity and respect they deserve. Thank you Assemblymember Bronson and Senator Hoylman-Sigal, for championing this landmark legislation through the state legislature, and Governor Kathy Hochul for signing it into law in recognition of World AIDS Day."