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Jacksonville Received 2 LGBT-Discrimination Complaints Since HRO Update

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Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission Executive Director Charlene Taylor Hill said since city ordinances were updated in February to protect the LGBT community, two complaints of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation have been filed.

Hill told the City Council Finance Committee on Thursday that her office is evaluating the complaints. The Human Rights Commission is tasked with investigating discrimination claims.

In Jacksonville discrimination is illegal in the areas of housing and public accommodations based on inherent characteristics like race, religion and gender. On Valentine’s Day this year, council extended those same protections to gay and transgender people, with exceptions for hiring at small businesses and religious organizations.

Councilman Reggie Brown found the two claims concerning.

“If it’s happening in our city and it’s not being documented, we pretty much validate the position of those that say we as a council overstepped our boundaries dealing with things that’s not an issue,” Brown said.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri said the low number shows opponents’ worry over the law’s triggering frivolous claims isn’t founded.

“It wasn’t all these parade of horribles that everybody was going to be pounding on your door and you’d need a million people to handle those complaints,” Hazouri said.

Mayor Lenny Curry last year separately extended LGBT discrimination protections to city employees and vendors, by interpreting LGBT discrimination as sex discrimination, which is already prohibited.

But Hazouri is now concerned vendors aren’t properly being monitored for discrimination.

City Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa said he’d personally look into any problematic vendors if names are sent his way.

“Let me tell you what vendors do, they certify in writing under a notary that they’re adhering to these laws. We’d like to bust those that are swearing and not adhering to the laws,” Mousa said.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.