Councilman says Jacksonville HRO could impact more than sports

HRO could impact more than just Jax sports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We've seen it happening around the country: states being shunned after laws proposed to protect the LGBT community fail before they're passed.

In North Carolina, the state lost a handful of NCAA championship events, after the SB2 bill passed, repealing rights for some of the LGBTQ community, including transgender individuals who now must use the restroom of their birth certificate-designated gender.

Now a Jacksonville council member says the city could also be negatively impacted if proposed changes to the city's HRO don't pass soon.

It's part of the reason Jacksonville Council member Tommy Hazouri met with Mayor Lenny Curry during a private meeting Friday morning.

Hazouri says a new bill, amending the city's human rights ordinance is in the works, set to be ready by the fall. It would specifically extend civil rights protections to the city's LGBT community.

The former mayor turned councilman proposed a similar amendment late last year, but later withdrew his proposal.

Hazouri says without those protections, it's not just sports, but also conventions and new business for the city that's at stake.

It has to do with our more progressive competition, even smaller cities, which Hazouri says sports, businesses and events will gravitate towards.

"When you have Tampa, Miami, Palm Beach, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, all of them with an all inclusive law, there's your competition there," said Hazouri.

Hazouri says the mayor promised him there would be no meddling with new HRO legislation.

Mayor Curry would not talk on camera with First Coast News Friday, but said in a statement Thursday that Jacksonville is an open and inclusive city and that he expects continued success pursuing NCAA events.

Hazouri says passing his proposed HRO changes will make that much more likely.

"I don't want us to be shunned, I don't want us to have a scarlet letter, hopefully I can draft, with the city council, and others helping, a bill that tightens up the language, that says what we need to say, and will be all inclusive for the lgbt community," said Hazouri.

Hazouri says he's confident an expanded HRO will eventually pass, in part because of an increasing number of other cities that have added LGBT protections within the last year.

"The handwriting's on the wall, it's not a question of if it's going to be a question of when," said Hazouri.


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