On Tuesday, the Virginia Senate passed four LGTB rights bills and with it has once again has displayed their dominion over the state legislature of Virginia. The four approved bills are namely Senate Bill 245, Senate Bill 161, Senate Bill 657, and Senate Bill 17.
While the Senate Bill 245 – passed by 20-18 vote margin – bans the practice of conversion therapy, Senate Bill 161 – passed with 24-15 vote margin – will ensure that the transgender students are treated without any discrimination or prejudice. On the other hand, Senate Bill 657 and 17, passed with 24-15 and 25-13 vote respectively, makes it easier for the transgender residents of the state to change their name and sex on their birth certificate and will repeal the state’s obsolete ban on same-sex marriage.
After their journey in the Virginia Senate, the LGBT rights bills will now be introduced in the House of Delegates. The reason for introducing the bills in the House is the parliamentary rules which state that each House of the State Legislature needs to approve the other House’s version of the resolution.
Apart from approving four historic bills related to the LGBT community in a day, the State Legislature is on the road to create another history. If the House of Delegates approves the ban to conversion therapy, then Virginia will become the 20th state out of the 50 states in the country that have banned LGBT conversion therapy.
The 19 states that have imposed a ban on conversion therapy are most states in the mid-Atlantic region, states on the West Coast, all New England states along with Illinois, Hawaii, and Utah.
The historic decision of the Virginia Senate will make the state a haven for the LGBT community, similar to the states like states Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and California that have ruled historic rulings in the favor of LGBT community. The decision will prove also beneficial to the LGBT community of the Arabian diaspora across the country, who are unable to enjoy equal rights and face no discrimination due to stringent laws in the Arabian countries, as well.
In parallel to the other 30 states of the US, countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, almost all the Arabian countries, and Asian countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Russia, Pakistan, and India are yet to provide equal laws and opportunities to the LGBT community and stop discrimination against them.
Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell, the sponsor of Senate Bill 245, about Virginia Senate approving the bill. said, “Not only is this practice harmful to our youth developing their gender identity, but from a legal standpoint, conversion therapy is abusive given the mental health repercussions. This bill will protect our children from beliefs rooted in bigotry.”
The historic decision of the Virginia Senate, apart from making the Commonwealth of Virginia have for the LGBT community, will also ensure that the State Democrats deliver their promise of making Virginia, an LGBT friendly state during the 2019 state elections, thus making it easier for the Democratic hopefuls and Democratic nominee to use the passed bills in their favor during the primaries and presidential election, respectively.