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Foes of Anchorage ordinance say there’s ‘no widespread discrimination’ against gays

Foes of Anchorage ordinance say there’s ‘no widespread discrimination’ against gays

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Opponents of a proposed LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance say the law is not necessary because they “don’t believe that there is widespread discrimination” against gays and lesbians.

The measure, Proposition 5, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, and goes before voters on April 3.

The initiative would build on the city’s existing ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and similar spheres on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age or disability, adding protections for gay, lesbian and transgender persons to the ordinance.

The measure has won unprecedented support from faith leaders, including the Episcopal bishop and 50 other churches and religious groups.

But the Alaska Family Council, which is heading the “No on 5” Protect Anchorage campaign, said the ordinance is not necessary.

“We don’t believe that there is widespread discrimination that’s preventing gays and lesbians from having jobs and getting loans and housing. There’s ample evidence from those in the (gay and lesbian) community who say Anchorage is a very tolerant place,” said Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council.

In contrast, however, respondents to an advocacy group’s recent survey of the experiences of gay, lesbian and transgender people in Anchorage reported significant levels of verbal harassment, threats of physical violence and workplace and school harassment, with more than 70 percent saying they had hid their sexual orientation to avoid job discrimination, reported the Anchorage Daily News.

The advocacy group Identity, Inc. and the Alaska LGBT Community Survey Task Force released a 132-page Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey released Thursday, which appears to rebuke the idea that discrimination against gays is not widespread enough in the city to accord a policy change.

The survey also reported that more than 76 of those surveyed had experienced bias-motivated verbal abuse in Anchorage, and more than 42 percent said they’ve been threatened with physical violence in Anchorage.

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