The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) applauds the Senate’s passage of S 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Senate’s 64-32 vote today represents historic progress on the march for full equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. For the first time, a body of Congress has passed ENDA legislation that includes protections for transgender people.
Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are LGBT face unique challenges and will benefit from this legislation. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reports that a full 98% of AAPI LGBT respondents experienced at least one form of discrimination in their lives, with 75% reporting discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to a study from the Williams Institute, the unemployment rate for AAPIs who are LGBT (11%) is higher than that of non-LGBT AAPIs (8%).
“Today’s vote represents an important victory for the LGBT community,” said Ben de Guzman, Co-Director of Programs for NQAPIA. “In 29 states, you can still be fired simply for being LGBT, and 34 states lack employment protections for transgender people. We are concerned about overreaching religious exemptions and are glad that the Senate voted down some of the more extreme provisions. As the bill moves to the House, we continue to push for the strongest protections possible that are not unnecessarily watered down in the name of religious freedom.”