THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
COURTHOUSE — The city earned a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s municipal equality index, which rates communities based upon criteria such as non-discrimination laws, policy positions and employment and law enforcement practices.
This year, more than 500 cities were rated by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation, including state capitals, large cities and university towns across the U.S.
The assessment measures law, policy and how inclusive services are for LGBTQ people. Virginia Beach is one of four Virginia cities that earned a perfect score, and it earned the highest raw score in the commonwealth, according to a statement released by the city on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Over the past two years, Virginia Beach has significantly improved its score through efforts such as having an LGBTQ liaison to the city manager’s office, providing transgender-inclusive health benefits and enacting a nondiscrimination ordinance that applies to city contracting.
Neva White, the LGBTQ liaison to City Manager Patrick Duhaney’s office, in a statement said the city has made an effort to make services, policy and ordinances more welcoming. “Our outcome has always been to make our services demonstrate that we’re open to all who want to work in, live in and visit our city,” White said.
In an interview, City Councilmember Michael Berlucchi, who represents the Rose Hall District, said the recognition is the result of a meaningful assessment people consider when deciding to live or do business in a city.
He said the city’s unsatisfactory score of 50 only two years ago probably underrepresented city efforts, but efforts since that time showed improvements and the hard work of White and many others.
“It’s a reflection of the progress we’ve made just to be a more welcoming community to everyone,” said Berlucchi, who is openly gay and who served as president of Hampton Roads Pride and on the city Human Rights Commission before taking office.
Further information about the study and criteria, including details about Virginia Beach, is available online via hrc.org.
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