SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Assembly (63-0) and Senate (39-0) each gave final approval on Sunday to legislation authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by Equality California to mandate that California collect and report voluntarily provided sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data for all communicable diseases, including COVID-19. If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, SB 932 will be the first law in the country to require healthcare providers to report SOGI data for all reportable communicable diseases. The governor has until September 30 to consider the legislation.
Senator Wiener authored SB 932 in early May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, given that California was collecting data on race, age, and sex with regards to cases of COVID-19, but not sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data for all COVID-19 patients. The bill was then amended to expand SOGI data collection to all reportable communicable diseases. Because rates of respiratory issues (from smoking), HIV/AIDS, cancer, and homelessness are higher in the LGBTQ+ community, LGBTQ+ people are likely experiencing greater health impacts from COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Additionally, LGBTQ+ people are more likely to work in the service industry and in front-line jobs.
“We are now one step closer to SB 932 becoming the first law in the United States to require healthcare providers to report sexual orientation and gender identity data,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “The Assembly’s unanimous support for this legislation demonstrates just how deep the support for LGBTQ health justice is in California. We’ve come a long way since the 1980s and 1990s, during which LGBTQ people were ignored and marginalized while facing the HIV/AIDS crisis. But we have a long way to go before the LGBTQ community is fully supported and cared for by our health infrastructure. SB 932 would be a groundbreaking law to help get us there.”
In July, Governor Newsom’s office announced it would begin collecting SOGI data for COVID-19 and for all reportable communicable diseases. Because the LGBTQ+ community has historically been overlooked by our public health infrastructure, SB 932 will codify this policy into law. It will help LGBTQ+ people get the health resources and support they need.
“We must never again allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to be erased or ignored during a pandemic or any other health crisis,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur. “I lost too many friends and loved ones during the AIDS crisis to watch that happen again. We’re so grateful to Senator Wiener for championing this critical issue and to Governor Newsom and his administration for the decisive action they took last month.”
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org