Legislation signed into law by Mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday updated a 47-year-old ordinance covering how the city responds to discrimination complaints, particularly those affecting the LGBT community.
“We have some history-making to do,” said Nutter, moments before signing the updated Fair Practices Ordinance just before 12:30 p.m. at a crowded Mayor’s Reception Room ceremony. “We must remain on constant watch, vigilantly, against hate whenever its evil head may rise. I’m completely intolerant of other people’s intolerance.”
The law, updated by a bill that received unanimous Council support, increases penalties from $300 to $2,000, provides greater protections for LGBT community members left unprotected by state or federal law and extends protections to cover discrimination based upon sexual-violence victim and familial status.
“This sends a message that we are going to protect the right’s of everybody. It shows what Philadelphia is all about, that we care about people,” Councilman at-large Bill Greenlee, the bill’s sponsor, said.
Commission on Human Relations Executive Director Rue Landau, who formerly co-chaired the Liberty City Democratic Club which promotes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community issues, said the law could become a national model.
“We are serious about protecting all Philadelphians from discrimination,” Landau said. “This is an incredibly exciting day.”