February 26th, 2021

Washington, DC—The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement regarding the introduction of H.R. 5, the Equality Act. The bill was introduced the previous week and passed in the House of Representatives today by a vote of 224-206. The Equality Act would provide protections for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ) community and prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) applauds the House’s decision to pass the Equality Act. This bill is a huge step in advancing LGBTQ civil rights. Protected identities under civil rights law are race, national origin, sex, disability, and religion. Currently, no such law exists to protect LGBTQ community members from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. These protections would greatly impact members of the LGBTQ community in terms of accessing resources in numerous areas, including housing, employment, education, credit, and plenty of other public services.

Previous research has reported that Transgender AAPIs experience unemployment and poverty levels are higher than the general population. In educational settings, 65% of Trans AAPIs reported extremely high rates of physical and sexual assault.

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation impacts the LGBTQ community in all aspects of life. As of now, 27 states have no protections for LGBTQ people, meaning that residents can be fired or denied housing on the basis of being LGBTQ. Education, income, housing, and healthcare are only a few examples of how the LGBTQ community faces barriers in accessing necessary resources.

Passing the Equality Act in the House is a start towards ending the violence and neglect facing the LGBTQ community. NCAPA calls on our senators to pass the Equality Act so that our Trans and Queer community members will be protected and gain access the the resources needed to survive and live full lives.

Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) commented:

“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum applauds the passage of The Equality Act and urges Congress to swiftly end discrimination against the LGBTQ community, which continues to hinder Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people from defining and making decisions about our lives, families, and communities. LGBTQ folks in the AAPI community experience intersecting discrimination in employment, pay equity, health care, immigration, housing, and other areas key to social and economic justice, and reproductive freedom. Our communities will never achieve racial and gender equity while some of us continue to experience discrimination and oppression based on our gender and sexual identities. When we fail to protect them, our whole movement suffers. NAPAWF applauds this legislative effort to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”

Taffy Johnson, Executive Director of United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance – Washington (UTOPIA WA) said:

“UTOPIA WA stands in firm solidarity with the House’s monumental decision to pass the Equality Act. Our Queer, Trans and Gender Diverse Pacific Islander community are no strangers to experiencing discrimination and prejudice because of their cultural and gender identity. Our efforts to combat policies and practices that are harmful to our community have always been at the forefront of the work that we do. We believe that people, regardless of their race, national origin, sex, disability, and religion, should be granted the resources that they need. By passing the Equality Act, we are hopeful that resources would be easily accessible to the people in the AA & NHPI LGBTQ+ communities that are vital to their survival. As a grassroots organization established by building communal relationships, the community that we serve are valuable to us. We hope that we will be able to find more resources that will enable us to better assist the people we serve while ushering them to live their most authentic lives, unafraid of harassment and being denied access. While there is still work that needs to be done, this is a positive step towards a brighter today because when there is change, there is definitely hope for the future.”

Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL- CIO stated:

“This bill is much needed and supported by union members across the country. It would provide protections that even the strongest union contract could not include, such as protections for housing and education opportunities. When AAPI Trans workers face some of the highest levels of poverty in our communities, we must do everything we can to protect their opportunities to succeed.”

Becky Belcore, Executive Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), expressed:

“We rejoice in the passage of the Equality Act. Our community deserves protection from all forms of violence and discrimination and when we say community, that emphatically includes our Queer and Trans Asian Americans. For far too long, LGBTQ community members across the board are made invisible because of cis-hetero patriarchy. We must continue this active solidarity for our LGBTQ+ Asian Americans (and all LGBTQ+ community members) and keep uplifting their experiences while asking ourselves how we, as allies, can better support them in all of our community spaces.”

Linda Ng, National President of OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates added:

“We applaud the passage of HR 5 and encourage all members of the Senate to pass the monumental and necessary safeguard from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We live in a time where polarization exists when the mention of identity is discussed; we must ensure that all members of our society feel comfortable expressing their true selves and are guaranteed the protections in all aspects of their lives. OCA will continue to advocate and support the expansion of rights for the LGBTQ community.”

David Inoue, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) said:

“Despite recent gains in recognizing the rights of LGBTQ+ people, it remains too easy and unfortunately common to discriminate in the basic areas of housing, education, public services, and lending systems. These are the same fundamental rights that have historically been denied to other minority groups, including Japanese Americans. It is past time for Congress to pass the Equality Act to continue our march towards ensuring everyone in this country can live without discrimination no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Carissa Villacorta, Executive Director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) commented:

“NaFFAA proudly supports the LGBTQ+ community and stands behind the passage of the Equality Act. All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve the right to employment, housing, funding, education, and other basic necessities. They deserve to be protected unconditionally, without fear of discrimination or harassment. The United States needs the Equality Act in order to have a more equitable future.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC commented:

“The Equality Act is long overdue. Even in 2021, Americans remain not fully protected under federal civil rights laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education, and public spaces. We applaud the House’s action in passing the Equality Act today – a necessary first step to protect our LGBTQ communities and expand civil rights protections for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and all Americans.”


Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 37 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.