TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights, issued perfect scores to the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg on its 2023 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) report.
The organization surveyed over 500 cities and issued scores based off of their municipal policies, laws and services, according to the report released this week.
129 of those cities received perfect scores, including Tampa and St. Pete, “even in the face of state laws and policies that seek to shut transgender people and youth out of public life,” HRC wrote in a news release. The HRC declared a “state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans” earlier this year in a report analyzing 2023 state legislative sessions. It identified Florida as one of nearly a dozen states pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, according to the organization.
Despite this, eight Florida cities were given perfect scores on the MEI report. HRC credits this to local governments’ “dedication” to governing in an “increasingly hostile environment.”
“Cities and towns around the country are stepping up each and every day, finding new and innovative ways to empower LGBTQ+ people in the face of a dire national state of emergency,” HRC President Kelley Robinson wrote in a statement. “Even when anti-LGBTQ+ extremists in state capitals are working to undermine their progress, mayors and city councilmembers keep fighting to make sure that LGBTQ+ people in their communities – especially trans people – are supported and lifted up to the fullest extent possible.”
Tampa and St. Pete were designated as “All-Star Cities,” meaning that despite the state lacking explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws,