Courtesy Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.

As Pride month comes to a close, Pittsburgh City Council is rolling out new protections for our LGBTQIA+ neighbors.

At a press conference on Tuesday in Downtown Pittsburgh, council members Erika Strassburger and Bruce Kraus, along with Mayor Peduto and the leadership of the city’s Commission on Human Relations (CHR), unveiled new legislation that would update the city code to remove outdated notions of gender identity. The goal? To strengthen protections against housing, employment and public accommodation discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity in Pittsburgh.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Strassburger’s Communications and Outreach Manager Hersh Merenstein said the legislation will be discussed in the Standing Committee Meeting on Monday, July 1. A final vote is planned for Tuesday, July 9.

Strassburger, Kraus and Peduto were joined at the press conference by members of the City’s LGBTQIA+ community, as well as Muslim, Jewish and immigrant community groups.

“Coming out in 1972, I was introduced to a community that could not have possibly understood at that time what a broad swathe of people we were destined to become,” Council President Kraus said at the event. “The magic of our community is our ability to be both inclusive and protective of all the many peoples we are.”

The long-time Pittsburgh politician added: “The changes being introduced today reflect the changes of our community over the years, and ensure our code appropriately represents and protects who we are as a people today.”

Staff from the CHR collaborated on the policy, which can be found here.

“For too long, people have been denied housing and employment because of who they love, how they identify or how they express themselves,” said Megan Stanley, interim director of the CHR, via a press release. “Even 50 years after the Stonewall Riots we are still fighting discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.”

The changes “proposed to City Code today will strengthen protection for residents and workers,” Stanley said, “and will help employers and providers understand their obligations under the law.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.