Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act

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The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) is a New York law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.[1] SONDA added the term "sexual orientation" to the list of specifically protected characteristics in various State laws, including the Human Rights Law, the Civil Rights Law, and the Education Law.[1]


SONDA was first introduced to the Assembly on February 16, 1971 by Assembly leader Al Blumenthal (D-Manhattan) and in the Senate by Manfred Ohrenstein (D-Manhattan), only for it to be defeated.[citation needed] The bill was reintroduced in the Assembly in 1983, but was again defeated by a narrow margin.[citation needed]

In 1990, Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) became the first openly gay member of the Assembly and put forward SONDA as a top priority of her campaign. The legislation was first passed by the Assembly on February 1, 1993, by a vote of 90-50, with 81 Democrats and 9 Republicans voting in favor, 14 Democrats and 36 Republicans against. It was stalled repeatedly in the Senate for the rest of the decade. Ultimately, the bill was passed by the Assembly on January 28, 2002, by a vote 113-27 and by the Senate on December 17, 2002, by a vote of 34 to 26. It was signed into law by Governor George Pataki the same day. It went into effect on January 16, 2003.[2][3]

Provisions of the law[edit]

SONDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment; admission to and use of places of public accommodation, resort or amusement; admission to and use of educational institutions; publicly assisted housing; private housing accommodations and commercial space; and credit.[1] SONDA also prohibits discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in the exercise of an individual's civil rights.[1] Institutions that are "religious or denominational", together with organizations "operated for charitable or educational purposes", are exempted from the provisions of SONDA.[1] SONDA indirectly applies when a transgender person is discriminated against based on that person's actual or perceived sexual orientation.[1]

In 2019, New York enacted the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which added "gender identity" and "gender expression" as protected categories under New York's Human Rights Law.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act ("SONDA") - New York State Attorney General".
  2. ^ "N.Y. lawmakers ban gay discrimination".
  3. ^ Press, The Associated (17 December 2002). "N.Y. Gay Rights Bill Passes" – via
  4. ^ "New York legislature passes historic bill against transgender discrimination".