Public Accommodations

Equality Virginia believes that no one, private or public sector, should be able to deny services or accommodations to individuals on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity.

Current Status

Under current Virginia law, there are no protections in place to protect LGBT individuals attempting to access public accommodations. When a person or an institution is engaged in commercial activity or engaging with the general public, then they should treat all members of the general public equally.

Background ►
These accommodations can range anywhere from parks and museums to restaurants, buses and libraries. Any Virginian, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have the same access to accommodations and services as everyone else.

Virginia lawmakers have made multiple decisions that deny protections for LGBT individuals in the public and private sectors, including specific “conscience clause” exemptions for adoption and foster care (SB 263-2011), in university groups (HB 1617-2013), and for genetic counseling (SB 330-2014). These lack of protections also mean victims of discrimination have no legal recourse to rectify their grievances.

General Assembly Updates:

This past legislative session, Equality Virginia saw success in defeating HB 1414, a bill that provided that a person would not be required to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action as a condition of obtaining or renewing a government-issued license, registration, or certificate” that would “violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior.”

Our Work

Beyond our work with legislators, Equality Virginia is also partnering with businesses across Virginia to make public and private spaces and accommodations more LGBT-friendly.

We have started the Equality Means Business program in coalition with Equality North Carolina and South Carolina to showcase businesses that know how vital LGBT employees and customers are to their success in a modern economy, from Fortune 500 companies all the way to your barber down the street.

Check out our interactive map of Virginia businesses that promise not to discriminate against LGBT customers or employees by joining Equality Means Business!

Take Action

If there’s a business you have connection with—your local market, the auto shop nearby or the boutique you stop by every Saturday—ask them to support the Virginia LGBT community by joining Equality Means Business.EMB VA logo

We have made it easy as 1-2-3 for you, so just click here for a guide. All the business needs to do is pledge not to turn away customers or deny employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Businesses can now fill out the online EMB membership form here!

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