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Best and Worst Arizona Cities for LGBT Rights

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Among Arizona's biggest cities, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson are doing the best job protecting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. 

The nonprofit advocacy group, which puts out an annual index rating cities' LGBT policies on a scale of 0 to 100, gave the three cities a perfect score. 

The other six cities HRC analyzed scored dismally. 

Chandler scored next highest at 63, followed by Scottsdale at 51, Mesa at 50, and Peoria at 38. Gilbert and Glendale scored worst at 30 and 29, respectively. 

To assess the scores, researchers noted whether cities have an anti-discrimination law that specifically protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. They also examined whether cities have human rights commissions, school anti-bullying policies, and an LGBT police liaison or a task force, and took into account how cities treat the LGBT people they hire. For example, are the city’s healthcare benefits transgender inclusive?

Of the nine cities included, only Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson have laws protecting LGBT residents from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation. 

In addition to lacking protections for employment, housing, and public accommodation, Glendale has no human rights commission, no school anti-bullying policy, and no LGBT police liaison or task force. While Gilbert has an LGBT police liaison and a human rights commission, it, too, has failed to address bullying in schools. 

City laws are especially important, said Catherine Alonzo, special adviser for the LGBT advocacy group Equality Arizona, because Arizona doesn’t have a statewide policy protecting against discrimination based on gender identity.

Between 15 and 43 percent of LGBT workers have been fired, denied a promotion, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law that studies LGBT issues. When surveyed separately, 78 percent of transgender people reported experiencing workplace discrimination.

A 2013 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found same-sex couples were more likely than heterosexual couples to be turned away when responding to Internet ads for rental units.

“Nobody should be refused service based on who they are as a person,” she said. “Just like we would not find it acceptable to ask someone to leave a restaurant because of the color of their skin, we should not ask someone to leave a restaurant because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”  

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