US: Homophobic speech at City Council meetings prompts response from human rights group

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Homophobic language used in the city of Richmond, California, has prompted action from the city’s Human Relations Commission, but has also raise issues around free speech.

The city’s first openly gay council member Jovanka Beckles, said that the meetings had deteriorated into hate speech against gay people, and that it was getting worse.

Some Richmond residents, and members of the clergy, have been seen making derogatory homophobic remarks to the city council, and Beckles said it had been going on for months.

“The City Council meetings are getting increasingly more violent in tone and feel with regard to homophobic comments that are being made and directed at me,” said Beckles, speaking to CBS.

Some residents have already expressed their disappointment at the tone of the meetings, and because of some of the language used.

Richmond’s Human rights and Human Relations Commission is aiming to come up with a policy which would allow members of the public to speak at city council meetings without promoting hate, or inciting violence.

The commission intends to do so whilst maintaining freedom of speech.