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Survey: NH Cities Lag in Inclusive LGBTQ Protections

A new "Equality Index" finds New Hampshire cities trailing New England and the nation for inclusive LGBTQ legal protections and services. (Melinda/Wikimedia Commons)
A new "Equality Index" finds New Hampshire cities trailing New England and the nation for inclusive LGBTQ legal protections and services. (Melinda/Wikimedia Commons)
October 19, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. - Cities in the Granite State are trailing others in New England and the nation for providing legal protections to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, according to a new report.

Xavier Persad, legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said the good news nationwide in his group's Municipal Equality Index is that cities are taking the lead and not waiting for states to pass laws protecting LGBTQ people. He said a big reason some New Hampshire cities are behind the curve on this trend is that local laws often don't recognize sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to legal protections.

"Well, it's important to extend protections to all your residents - LGBTQ; that includes sexual orientation and gender identity - in employment, housing and public accommodations," he said. "Maine and Massachusetts have fully inclusive protections, and we look forward to New Hampshire passing those soon."

This is the fifth year the Human Rights Campaign has compiled the index. This year's report includes ratings on 506 cities from every state in the nation concerning how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are for LGBTQ people who live and work there.

Persad said the equality index rated 10 New Hampshire cities on a scale of zero to 100, and they generally scored below the national average for their LGBTQ protections.

"The average for all New Hampshire cities was 42 out of 100 points. The national average was 55," he said. "On the bottom of New Hampshire cities was Nashua at 27 points out of 100, and at the top was Durham, N.H., with 70 out of 100."

The report also awards 12 points to cities that responsibly report hate crimes to the FBI. Concord is among the cities that earned a "12" for 2014. Persad said it is important for both federal and local authorities to know about hate-crime statistics of all types, so they can better address the problem.

The report is online at hrc.org/mei.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH