Kenney Expands City-Funded Travel Ban to Places With Anti-LBGT Legislation

It will now include Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama, in addition to North Carolina and Mississippi.
Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Last month, Mayor Jim Kenney placed a ban on non-essential city-funded travel to Mississippi and North Carolina, in response to legislation enacted in those states that limit the protections LGBT persons. Late Monday, Kenney announced that the ban will be extended to include Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama. 

“I am announcing this ban in response to the enactment of legislation that infringes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in these jurisdictions,” said Kenney. “I will reconsider this ban if the States of North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and the city of Oxford, Alabama choose to repeal their discriminatory legislation.”

The statement comes after Tennessee passed a controversial law that allows counselors to refuse treatment to patients based on religious or personal beliefs. Oxford, Alabama, came under fire for a law that requires residents to use bathrooms that match their biological sex. Those who violate the law could face six months of jail time or a $500 fine.

Opponents to the legislation have called it unprecedented and discriminatory against transgender and LGBT persons.

Nellie Fitzpatrick, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, said that the ban is a way to send the message that Philadelphia does not support or condone the laws.

“Philadelphia will continue to stand up with and for LGBT people by using everything within our jurisdictional power to send the message that hate and discrimination against people for who they are or who they love is intolerable,” said Fitzpatrick. “If other jurisdictions keep passing discriminatory laws, we will keep eliminating the possibility of our dollars going into their economies.”

Philadelphia is one of at least nine cities and states that have enacted travel bans. Last month, Kenney joined a group called Mayor Against Discrimination, that was established in response to the legislation passed in North Carolina and Mississippi; travel bans are among their policies to fight discrimination.

Ajeenah Amir, a media relations representative for the Mayor’s office, said that so far the ban hasn’t had an impact on the city’s travel budget or affected any trips. She noted that recently travel was approved to North Carolina for representatives from the Philly Police Department and Prisons for public safety trainings that weren’t offered elsewhere.

Kenney stated that city employee travel to the districts is allowed if it is pre-approved by the Managing Director and is essential to public health and safety.

The Federal Department of Justice currently is pursuing a lawsuit against North Carolina for its restriction of bathroom usage.

“[The law] stigmatizes and singles out transgender employees, results in their isolation and exclusion, and perpetuates a sense that they are not worthy of equal treatment and respect,” said the DOJ in their suit.

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