Study: How friendly are metro Atlanta cities to the LGBTQ community?

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Study: How friendly are metro Atlanta cities to the LGBTQ community?

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STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Spectators pack 10th street as the Atlanta Pride Parade heads toward Piedmont Park Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.  

Continuing a five-year streak, Atlanta was the only Georgia city to receive a perfect score of 100 on a national report that evaluates protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

The Human Rights Campaign recently released the 2017 Municipal Equality Index, which assesses laws, policies and services related to non-discrimination in the nation's cities.

This year's index rated 506 cities, including 10 in Georgia. Six of those cities are in the metro area — Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Decatur, North Druid Hills, Roswell and Sandy Springs.

Atlanta is known in the Southeast for its large LGBTQ population. The city was even given bonus points for having elected officials who are openly LGBTQ, but the score cannot exceed 100.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city "will not retreat from defending LGBTQ rights,” noting in a press release that the Atlanta Police Department has its first-ever LGBT leader, Chief Erika Shields.

“My Administration has always worked to make sure our policies and practices speak to our values, but in 2017, it’s even more important to state unequivocally that the City of Atlanta supports our LGTBQ employees, residents and visitors,” Reed said in the statement. 

 

The Human Rights Campaign’s MEI looked at five categories to determine each city’s score:

• Non-discrimination laws: whether a city prohibits sexual and gender discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations 

• The city as an employer: whether a city offers equal LGBT protection laws for employees and awards contracts to businesses committed to LGBT rights

• City services: whether a city includes LGBT people in city services and programs

• Law enforcement: whether police report hate crimes and thoughtfully engage with the LGBT community

• A city's relationship with the LGBT community: whether a city's leadership advocates for the LGBT community

Here's a breakdown of each Georgia city's MEI score:

• Athens — 33, up from 21 in 2016

• Atlanta — 100, same as 2016

• Augusta-Richmond — 14, up from 12 in 2016

• Avondale Estates — 24, down from 41 in 2016

• Columbus — 34, down from 38 in 2016

• Decatur — 51, up from 21 in 2016. (The city vowed to do better after receiving the low 2016 score.)

• North Druid Hills — 6, down from 12 in 2016

• Roswell — 11, same as 2016

• Sandy Springs — 22, same as 2016

• Savannah — 44, same as 2016

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