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Policing, Prisons, & Criminal Justice | Discriminatory Treatment | Connecticut

Connecticut Discriminatory Treatment Q&A

Does Connecticut have an anti-discrimination law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination?

Yes. Since 1991, Connecticut has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81c to 46a-81q). In July 2011, these laws were extended to protect transgender people when Governor Malloy signed Public Act 11-55, An Act Concerning Discrimination, into law. The act, which went into effect on October 1, 2011, added “gender identity or expression” to Connecticut’s list of protected classes. For more detailed information see GLAD’s and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund’s (CWEALF) publication, Connecticut: Legal Protections for Transgender People

Do the laws also protect people perceived to be LGBT?

Yes. Connecticut non-discrimination law defines “sexual orientation” as either “having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such preference or being identified with such preference…” (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-81a (emphasis added)). This language includes discrimination based on perception.

Similarly, the law defines “gender identity or expression” as:

[A] person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth… (Conn. Gen. Stat. sec. 46a-51(21) (emphasis added)).

I am often told by police to “move along” from public areas. Is that legal?

Not necessarily. If the area is public and not posted as having particular hours, you generally have a right to be there as long as you are not engaged in unlawful activity. Public places belong to everyone, and are often also places of public accommodation subject to Connecticut’s non-discrimination law. Even if a police officer wants to deter crime, or suspects some kind of unlawful intent, they have no general right to request people to move from one place to another unless there is unlawful conduct (Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116, 126 (1958)).

What are the general rules about interaction with police?

The presence of individuals who appear to be LGBT – whether because such individuals are displaying symbols such as a rainbow flag or pink triangle or for any other reason – should not trigger any special scrutiny by a police officer.

Police may of course approach a person, and make inquiries.  But the fact that a person has been convicted of a past offense, or fails to respond, or responds in a way which does not satisfy the officer, cannot, without more, justify an arrest.

If an officer has a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, they may briefly detain an individual, or stop the person for purposes of investigation (State v. Anderson, 24 Conn. App. 438, 441, 589 A.2d 372, 373 (1991); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 16 (1968)). However, an arrest can only occur upon “probable cause” that a crime has been committed.

What can I do if I believe I have been improperly treated by the police?

Complaints may be made to any individual police department for matters concerning its officers, and complaints to the Connecticut State Police may be made to Department of Public Safety, Attn: Legal Affairs Unit, 1111 Country Club Rd., Middletown, CT  06457. Their general number is (860) 685-8000.

In some cases, you may decide to pursue a lawsuit, either because of injuries, improper detainment, or for some other reason. These matters are highly specialized, and GLAD can make attorney referrals.