By Hugo Greenhalgh
LONDON, April 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Olympic medallist ice skater Adam Rippon called on Sunday for the US Congress to back legislation to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In a video by award-winning directors Dustin Lance Black and Paris Barclay for LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, Rippon said he backed the proposed Equality Act, which had its first hearing before a US Congressional committee this month.
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"The message that this legislation really sends to young LGBTQ+ people is that your identity should never be something that you feel is gonna hold you back," 29-year-old Rippon said.
"That's why we need to pass the Equality Act now."
More than half of LGBTQ Americans live in states without protection from discrimination at work, school, when buying property, seeking credit, the jury system and other aspects of life.
A March 2019 poll conducted by PRRI, the Public Religion Research Institute, found seven out of 10 Americans backed non-discrimination protection for LGBTQ people.
If approved by Congress, the measure would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex and national origin.
A vote on the act is expected in Congress at some point between May and July.
"Adam Rippon is using his global platform to urge Congress to pass the Equality Act and to extend comprehensive non-discrimination protections to all LGBTQ people," HRC president Chad Griffin said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Rippon became the first openly gay US athlete to win a medal at a Winter Olympics, taking bronze in the figure skating team event in South Korea last year.
He is the latest well-known figure to back HRC's "Americans for the Equality Act" series, filmed by Black and Barclay, following endorsements from Academy Award-winning actor Sally Field and transgender singer and songwriter Shea Diamond.
"Every American deserves a fair shot at a job to support themselves and their family, and the security of a roof over their head," said Black, who won the 2009 best original screenplay Oscar for the film "Milk."
(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)