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Columbia Council establishes committee to advise on LGBTQ issues

The city of Columbia has established a committee to advise city council on issues facing the LGBTQ community.

The Council of June 1 voted unanimously to create the Advisory Committee on Equality. The city has yet to nominate members of the group, but City Councilor Tameika Isaac Devine said those initial nominations could take place at the June 15 council meeting.

According to city documents, the new advisory committee would work “to promote fair working and living conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and to advocate for LGBTQ issues in all areas of municipal government.” The committee would help develop city policy regarding civil rights issues affecting LGBTQ people, provide education on the needs of the LGBTQ community, and coordinate city departments, agencies and offices to improve access for people. LGBTQ services, by municipal paperwork.

“We need an information channel between the LGBTQ community and the city council and city staff, so that when issues arise they can be expressed quite easily with the appropriate staff,” the councilor said. municipal Howard Duvall at The State.

Mayor Steve Benjamin said creating the new committee was a “wonderful decision” that would help “establish the community as a diverse and inclusive community that supports our LGBTQIA citizens.”

Devine and Duvall were tasked with helping to initially establish the Equality Advisory Committee. Devine said on June 1 that she did not imagine the city would cap the number of members who could be in the group.

“We see this as a committee that would be open, like our other committees, that would give us advice, and there is no limit to the number of people we would appoint,” Devine said.

In addition to the members who would be appointed by the Council, positions on the committee would be reserved for a number of LGBTQ rights agencies, including SC Pride, SC Equality, Black Pride, SC United for Justice and Equality and Harriet. Hancock Center.

The creation of the Equality Advisory Committee is not the first time that the Council has recently addressed issues affecting the LGBTQ community. On May 4, he gave first unanimous approval of an order that would ban professional therapists from offering conversion therapy that attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ minors.

As stated in the prescription, conversion therapy – sometimes referred to as restorative therapy or ex-gay therapy – is considered “treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change gender behaviors or expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic feelings or attractions towards persons of the same sex. It is essentially an attempt, through therapy, to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay, lesbian, or bisexual to straight.

The order would prohibit “any provider from providing conversion therapy or restorative therapy to a minor within city limits if the provider receives compensation for such services.” The penalty would be civil, not criminal, and would result in a fine of $ 500.

This movement was rejected. State Senator Josh Kimbrell, a Republican from Spartanburg County, has asked SC Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson to consider taking legal action against the city if it passes the ban. Kimbrell called the city’s future ordinance “a violation of the First Amendment concept.”

The council has yet to take a final vote on the ban on conversion therapy for minors, although officials have said the vote could take place at a meeting on June 15.

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