South Florida city formally declared LGBTQ+ sanctuary

Wrapped in bisexual flag and pride flags this trio are watching a gay pride event

Lake Worth Beach in South Florida has officially declared itself an LGBTQ+ sanctuary city, becoming the first in the state to do so.

A city commission voted unanimously in favour of the move on Tuesday (5 September) after listening to community members’ concerns regarding recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislations that had been introduced in Florida.

The declaration, which is largely symbolic, states that Lake Worth Beach will “now and forever be considered a safe place, a sanctuary, a welcoming and supportive city for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families to live in peace and comfort.”

It also cited data from the ACLU that there has been a concerning spike in anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the United States, with over 525 introduced in 2023 alone.

Florida, in particular, has been a hostile space for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, between censoring classroom materials, homophobic vandalism, and a heavy percentage of Governor Ron DeSantis’ actions.

Rainbow flag and Trans flag on a flagpole in front of office buildings
Lake Worth Beach in South Florida has officially declared itself an LGBTQ+ sanctuary city, becoming the first in the state to do so. (Getty Images)

Speaking to the press after the declaration passed, Julie Seaver, the executive director of Compass LGBTQ+ Community Centre said: “This is a crucial time for all of us to come together and stand in unity that the city is publicly making a statement, in black and white, and a resolution that it is a safe city for all of its residents.”

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When asked if she considered this declaration a victory for the LGBTQ+ community Seaver said “absolutely,” per NBC News.

“We’ll take any win we can at this point.”

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Asked how the city of Lake Worth Beach would keep residents safe under this new declaration, despite the state’s rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, Mayor Betty Resch said: “I will personally address that, and the City Commission will address that, and the city staff will address that because that is not acceptable.”

A similar proposal is now underway in Tallahassee, though Rand Hoch of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council told NBC that legislators in the Floridian city have been passing bills that are making people feel unwanted, which is affecting both locals and visitors.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had incidents throughout Palm Beach County. We’ve had incidents here in Lake Worth Beach and to have safe spaces means a lot for people,” said Hoch.

“If we can’t do anything about the people up in Tallahassee, at least we can do it here in our own backyard.”

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