New protections for state’s LGBTQ community touted as ‘big step forward’

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BRIDGEPORT -

State lawmakers have voted this year to extend new protections to the gay and transgender community.

Among other things, they will make it easier to convict people of hate crimes against LGBTQ victims.

News 12 was outside the Bridgeport mayor’s office Wednesday where the Pride flag was raised on top of the Margaret E. Morton Government Center.

Joe Grabarz, a former state legislator from Bridgeport and gay rights pioneer, called the new laws “another big step forward.”  In 1990, he stunned the world at a news conference as Connecticut's first openly gay politician.

"Connecticut has become a place that appreciates tolerance,” said Grabarz. “It's a good reason for living here and why I'm proud of it."

Today in Hartford, there are still few LGBTQ lawmakers. One of them is state Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-Bethel) who got three new laws passed. Two of them extend access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, drugs for HIV and other health services. The other bans the so-called "gay panic defense" in court.

"People say that just because someone was gay, it triggered them to be angry. They beat them up, they go into a coma, they die," said Rep. Allie-Brennan.

He said he would like schools to start teaching the history of the gay rights movement.

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