Republican Convention host city says transgender rights must be respected

The city of Cleveland has passed an transgender rights ordinance, days before hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The 2016 Republican National Convention is set to begin on Monday in the Ohio city, where Donald Trump is expected to be confirmed as the party’s Presidential nominee.

The draft version of the GOP party platform, which is expected to be greenlit at the conference, lurches far to the right and rallies firmly against LGBT rights, as evangelicals and ultraconservatives dominate the party infrastructure.

The platform rejects attempts to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for minors, claiming “parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference” – while also insisting: “Natural marriage between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.”

It calls for the Supreme Court ruling on equal marriage to be reversed, opposes transgender rights legislation, and calls for ‘religious freedom’ laws to permit anti-LGBT legislation.

But the city of Cleveland is fighting back – affirming LGBT equality just days before the conference.

Cleveland City Council this week unanimously passed a local rights ordinance, a measure that removes discriminatory language in Cleveland’s code that allowed employers to tell transgender employees and business owners to tell patrons which restrooms they could or could not use. The legislation was first mooted in 2013 but was blocked for many years.

JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaign said: “While national Republican leaders are doing everything possible to relegate LGBTQ people to second-class citizens, the Cleveland City Council is standing up and sending the world a different message — that Cleveland is a welcoming city and won’t tolerate discrimination against transgender people.

“We commend City Council members for setting a pro-equality example for other cities and states by soundly rejecting the dangerous, fear-mongering rhetoric many anti-equality activists are peddling across the country.”

A statement from Equality Ohio says: “Now, transgender Clevelanders and visitors have the dignity of using the restroom matching their gender identity.

“This took a lot of work. Nearly three years of work. Dozens of transgender individuals and allies sharing testimony in support. Hundreds of one-on-one conversations with Clevelanders about what it means to be transgender. Two hearings. Rallies. Sit-ins.

“Thank you to the Cleveland City Council & Mayor Jackson for making Cleveland safer and more welcoming.

“Thank you to the volunteers, the civic, faith and elected leaders, to the organisations and small business owners, and everybody who made this victory possible. “