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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Seniors > Long-Term Care

Long-Term Care “Bill of Rights” Protects LGBTQI and HIV+ Residents from Discrimination


A comprehensive law (P.L. 2021, c.033) that took effect in August 2021 protects LGBTQI and HIV+ residents of long-term care. Termed a new “Bill of Rights” for these individuals, the law protects rights in three different ways: defining and prohibiting acts of discrimination, placing new anti-discrimination requirements on facilities, and outlining how to report violations of the law.

What counts as discrimination?

This law concerns discrimination “based in whole or in part on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, intersex status, or HIV status.” Its anti-discrimination measures address rights in medical care, non-medical care, and access to long-term care facilities for LGBTQI and HIV+ residents.

Discrimination in Medical Care

A resident has the right to receive appropriate medical care while having their privacy and dignity respected. For example, a facility cannot:

  • Prohibit access to medical care appropriate to the resident’s organs and bodily needs, including transition-related assessments, therapies, and treatments that a health care provider has recommended
  • Have staff (outside of those providing direct care to the resident) present in a room without the resident’s informed consent when the resident is partially or fully unclothed
  • Fail to have proper visual barriers to provide bodily privacy for all residents
  • Disclose information about a resident’s sexual orientation, transgender status/identity, transition history, intersex status, or HIV status, and must take steps to minimize the likelihood of disclosure

Discrimination in Non-Medical Care

Staff must respect a resident’s chosen identity and allow a resident’s access to fair accommodations. For example, a facility must ensure that its staff does not:

  • Fail repeatedly to use a chosen name or pronoun after the staff has been clearly informed
  • Restrict residents from associations, sexual or not, with other residents or visitors
  • Refuse or willfully fail to provide any service, care, or reasonable accommodation, especially when the refusal would cause the resident avoidable discomfort
  • Deny a resident the right to wear or be dressed in clothing, accessories, or cosmetics, or choose grooming practices, in ways permitted for others
  • Prohibit or harass a resident from using a restroom based on gender identity

Discrimination in Access to Long-Term Facilities

People within the protected class must be given access to long-term care facilities appropriate to their needs. For example, a facility cannot:

  • Deny admission to an otherwise qualified resident
  • Transfer or refuse to transfer the resident within the facility or to another facility
  • Discharge or evict the resident without proper justification
  • Make room assignments for transgender and non-binary residents based on any gender other than their chosen gender, unless at the resident’s request
  • Deny a request by residents to share a room

What else must facilities do?

Facilities must take three main actions on top of ensuring their residents’ equal rights. First, they are required to post anti-discrimination signs specifically mentioning the equal treatment of LGBTQI or HIV+ people. The signs must also include information on how to contact the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) if a resident feels their rights were violated.

Second, facilities must ensure that a resident’s records include the resident’s gender identity and chosen name and pronouns, as indicated by the resident.

Finally, facilities must ensure that the administrators and entire staff receive training, at least every other year, on caring for LGBTQI seniors and seniors living with HIV, including the prevention of discrimination. Facilities must also designate one administrator and one staff member to serve as the facility’s points of contact for compliance with this act.

How can I report violations of my rights?

If you are in a long-term care facility and feel as though you are being discriminated against because you are LGBTQI or HIV+, you or someone acting on your behalf can file a complaint through the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman by phone at 1-877-582-6995, email at [email protected], or the Online Complaint Form.

If an investigation finds the facility has violated your rights, it may be subject to civil penalties or other administrative action as outlined under the Department of Health regulations.