Thursday, October 19, 2017

Orlando ranks as one of top Florida cities for LGBTQ equality

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:45 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
The City of Orlando scored a perfect 100 for the fourth year in a row on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index, which measured LGBTQ equality and inclusion in local policies in 506 cities across the nation.

Orlando was one of four cities in the Sunshine State to receive a perfect score out of the 18 Florida cities ranked in 2017. The other three municipalities who received a score of 100 include St. Petersburg, Wilton Manors and Tallahassee.

"We are so proud to be recognized again with a perfect score in the Municipal Equality Index," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says in a statement. "The City of Orlando is committed to having an inclusive government that promotes inclusiveness to benefit all residents of our city, including those from the LGBTQ+, Latinx and other communities of color. Together we are ensuring that Orlando is a place where all people feel welcome, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity."

The categories Orlando was ranked on include non-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people from being discriminated in employment, housing, and public accommodations; equivalent benefits and protections to LGBTQ municipal employees; inclusive city services and programs; law enforcement's treatment of the LGBTQ community in a thoughtful and respectful way that includes fair reporting of hate crimes; and city leadership's relationship with the LGBTQ community.

"This year’s MEI paints a vivid picture: cities big and small, in red and blue states alike, are continuing our progress toward full equality, regardless of the political drama unfolding in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement.

The average score for Florida cities was 75 out of 100 points, above the national average of 57. The lowest-scoring Florida cities include Daytona Beach with 30 points; Port Saint Lucie with 31 points; Cape Coral with 39 points; and Hialeah with 49 points. HRC asserts that LGBTQ inclusion in local laws and policies show that cities across the country are taking the lead in protecting queer and transgender people as LGBTQ rights are attacked by federal and state officials.

"At a moment when even our most basic rights are under attack, it has never been more important to shine a spotlight on inclusive local policies," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, in a statement. "So many of Florida's cities have stepped up to protect and defend LGBTQ equality and I am proud of the progress made towards full equality for all Floridians."

Read the full report here.

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