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Pittsburgh's LGBT Equality Rating Well Above National Average

Pittsburgh received the second highest grade in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality among seven cities in Pennsylvania, according to a report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign.

Pittsburgh scored a 90 out of a possible 100, which is based on the city’s non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment policies, law enforcement and municipal leadership on matters of equality.

Ted Martin, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality Pennsylvania, said the score is something to be proud of, especially because it shows Pittsburgh is ahead of other regions.

“If, for example, you go into Westmoreland County or Washington County, or to the south, or Beaver County or Butler County, you’re not protected [as a member of the LGBT community] in the same ways you are in Pittsburgh,” Martin said. “That’s one thing that the state is not doing and that’s one thing Pittsburgh is leading in, and that’s a remarkable thing.”

The average score for the seven cities – Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, New Hope, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and University Park – is 80. The average for the 353 cities assessed across the United States is 59.

Martin said the state as a whole is lagging behind in LGBT treatment.

“There are no LGBT-specific hate crime protections in Pennsylvania (statewide), no LGBT-specific bullying crimes in Pennsylvania,” Martin said. “That stands us out from most of our northeastern neighbors, and that is something that Pennsylvanians in general should be concerned about.”

Philadelphia recorded a perfect 100. Martin said a perfect score can be attained by Pittsburgh if small steps are taken.

“There’s some work around the police department that’s going on. I think that’s certainly important,” Martin said. “There’s a little bit more liaison they could be doing with the community through a possible liaison in the mayor’s office, for example. But all of those things are very doable.”

Martin said even though Pennsylvania has plenty to improve, Equality PA is having more success in the legislature as of late.

“We’ve moved forward on non-discrimination this past session of the legislature further than ever before,” Martin said. “Highest number of co-sponsors of the legislation, bipartisan support, highest number of Republicans to sign on board, highest number of corporations to come out publicly in support of the legislation.”

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