Jacksonville councilman files LGBT protections bill

By : Jamie Hyman
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Jacksonville council members have discussed adding LGBT protections to their existing Human Rights Ordinance, and now one of them is doing something about it.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri filed an expanded HRO that adds sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to existing protections from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

The City of Jacksonville “seeks to build a reputation as a welcoming community for bright and talented members of a workforce” and “also seeks to be competitive in attracting new industries to this region,” reads the language of the ordinance.

Hazouri’s filing comes after fellow councilman Bill Gulliford filed a bill pushing to have the expanded HRO protections be voted on through a referendum.

On Dec. 15, the city hosted the final of three “Community Conversations” to discuss the issue. The discussions were divided. After the first meeting, a man was arrested for a bomb threat and the Ku Klux Klan distributed anti-gay flyers in Jacksonville neighborhoods.

Jacksonville is the only major Florida city without protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, despite being the Florida metro area with the highest percentage of LGBT residents, according to a report by the Jacksonville Office of General Counsel.

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