California has passed a landmark bill that is set to track the violent deaths of people within the LGBTQ+ community.
On Wednesday (1 September), the state senate unanimously passed the AB 1094 law or the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data Collection Project.
Under the bill, the California Department of Public Health will start a three-year program that would train medical examiners and coroners to identify and collect information on a victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity in cases of violent death.
Homicide, use of deadly force by police and suicide are set to be included in the extensive training.
Assembly member Dr Joaquin Arambula, who first introduced the legislation to Senate, opened up about the importance of the bill in a statement.
“I believe AB 1094 is an important and humane step in ultimately preventing these deaths,” he said.
“Data may sound like a scientific subject, but, at its core, it leads us to better help and serve all our communities with compassion and empathy.
“We must have better data to understand the scope of what’s happening in our LGBTQ+ community – especially among the youth – when it comes to violent deaths, including homicide and suicide.
“This information will be a crucial guidepost to prevention efforts and saving lives.”
The bill has been praised by The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth.
In a statement to Gay City News, chief community officer for the organisation Carrie Davis echoed similar sentiments to Arambula.
“Recognizing LGBTQ identity matters – in life and in death. Particular members of our LGBTQ community, such as transgender women and queer young people of colour, face disproportionate rates of violence and suicide,” she said.
“Better data around the occurrence of these preventable deaths can help us create life-saving programs to protect our most marginalized community members.”
The inclusive legislation has also gained the attention of other public officials in different parts of the US – like New York State Senator Brad Holyman.
“Data collection and analysis specific to sexual orientation and gender identity are an important guide for policymakers to help combat hate crime, suicide and police brutality, which have risen by alarming rates in the LGBTQ population,” he said.
The bill is now headed back to Assembly for concurrence and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom when it reaches his desk.
Read up on the full bill here.