US: Congress extends Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT people

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The republican controlled House of Congress on Thursday renewed the Violence Against Women Act expanding federal protections to LGBT people, as well as Native Americans and immigrants.

The renewal passed 286 votes to 138, with 87 Republicans and 199 Democrats voting to pass the bill. The measure will now go to President Obama, who has already said he will sign the legislation.

The law, which expired in 2011, is intended to raise awareness about the abuse of women, reports 13WMAZ.

Many Republicans had agreed that renewing the law was a necessity, some conservatives raised objections to the protections for LGBT people.

This legislation authorises funding for programs helping victims, as well as those prosecuting people accused of domestic violence and sexual assault.

It also includes provisions to deal with stalking which would cover the use of spyware and video surveillance equipment.

Representative Renee Ellmers, said the new version of the bill would protect all people, rather than putting some people into different categories. She called the bill “superior” because it was “all-inclusive”.

Last Tuesday, the Senate voted 78-22 to pass the bill, including 23 Republican votes among the supporters.

Under this new vote, the legislation will be valid until 2018.

The law was first introduced in 1994 and was renewed twice with bipartisan support. However, the last attempt to renew it in 2012 failed, as Republicans and Democrats could not compromise on additions which tried to extend protections to gay people, immigrants and Native Americans.

In 2010, the US Justice Department confirmed in a memo that in practice the act’s protections applied to gay men and lesbians.