Baton Rouge deemed 'unfriendly' toward LGBT community by national survey

Monday, December 31, 2012 - 8:08pm

A new survey by the Human Rights Campaign cites the city of Baton Rouge as one of the least 'Gay-Friendly' in the nation.

The survey gives points from 0 to 100 based on several factors including the city's laws and policies and just how inclusive the city is to LGBT needs. Baton Rouge received a '2' out of 100, local LGBT activists say it's not surprising but it's clear there's some work still to be done.

"Baton Rouge received a '2' we are, I think, fourth from the bottom of the ranking. Three cities received a zero," Matt Patterson with the Capital City Alliance explained.

Patterson said the low score was a little disheartening, but not shocking.

"It's disappointing, on the other hand this is not a surprise to anybody who lives here, we knew that you can be fired from your job in Baton Rouge because you are gay," Patterson continued.

The score is based on several factors including non-discrimination ordinances and laws, as well as legal rights and protection for the LGBT community.

"What we have to work on is the gap between the talk and the walk. You can't be a great city if you rank 2 out of 100 on an equality survey," Joe Traigle, a local businessman and equality activist explained.

Though Mayor Holden was not available to speak with us Monday, a spokesmen from his office, as well as members of the Capital City Alliance have said that the low score doesn't accurately represent the mayor’s support of the LGBT community.

"There's a category talking about, how supportive is the city leadership, and one thing we are fortunate to have here is a mayor who has not been shy about expressing his support for equality for all people," Patterson said.

In 2006 Mayor Holden revised the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for City-Parish employees to prohibit discrimination on sexual orientation, but for some that’s just not enough. Traigle said in the New Year there needs to be more dialogue and action about inclusion before the city can move forward and earn a higher score.

"What places like these great cities, like Austin and Portland, and Raleigh-Durham. What they have is an ordinance that says you will not discriminate in employment, housing and credit based on a person's race, sexual orientation, etc. Those are the kinds of things that attract business, those are the kinds of things that attract jobs," Traigle explained.

The only other city in the state to receive a score was New Orleans, the Big Easy took home a score of 79.

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