A central Pennsylvanian borough has become the first district to repeal anti-discrimination safeguards that protect the LGBTQ+ community.
On Monday (24 January), the Chambersburg Borough Council voted to rescind a newly passed anti-discrimination ordinance.
The law protected residents against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity.
At least 71 of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities have passed LGBTQ-inclusive local nondiscrimination ordinances as of January 2022, according to the Pennsylvania Youth Congress.
Chambersburg has become the first to repeal one Pennsylvanian borough to repeal the ordinance. The law was passed four months ago by a Democratic majority. However, a new Republican have advocated and voted for its repeal.
During the Chambersburg Borough Council’s vote, local resident Kim Wartz spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, according to Fox43.
Wartz asked the council to justify their motivation behind the repeal: “Why do you have the intent to disenfranchise the LGBTQ+ community when this ordinance was put in place to help give us rights?”
Pennsylvania currently does not offer statewide protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Newly elected Republican Council President Allen Coffman has said that the anti-discrimination ordinance does not “accomplish anything for our citizens.”
Councilman Bill Everly spoke in favour of the repeal, stated the removal would ensure “the same inalienable rights” across the local community.
“By creating special protections for people, we open the door for other special protections for other people,” Everly said
“I’ve been doing some work with the LGB, looking at this and out in California, they’re also trying to attach other quote alphabet letters to the LGBTQ people. So if we pass this ordinance, I mean, we don’t repeal this ordinance, who’s to say another special interest group will come forward.”
Former Chambersburg borough Council President Alice Elia has spoken against the vote and repeal: “This issue should not be politicized.
“It’s an issue of justice and having equal protection for everybody in our community. It shouldn’t be a political or a Democratic or Republican issue. This should be something we are all concerned about.”
Councilwoman Kathy Leedy spoke against the removal of the anti-discrimination ordinance and its impact on the LGBTQ+ community.
“Once a person loses a reputation, it’s very, very difficult to get that reputation back and I believe the same is true of a community. We will be the first and only town to have a nondiscrimination ordinance rescinded,” she said.
GAY TIMES has emailed the Chambersburg Borough Council for a request to comment.