We’ve written on our blog in the past about the intersection of (gay) marriage, HIV stigma, and LGBTQ rights. I’m reminded of how our issues intersect today as the Charlotte City Council prepares to debate and vote on proposed fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens. As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte sets a tone for the rest of the state, and we’re hopeful that these ordinances will pass tonight. Mecklenburg County has the highest rate of HIV in the state, and we know residents struggling with an HIV diagnosis may also be struggling with their own understanding of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Our movement owes a note of thanks and appreciation to the many organizations who’ve been leaders on this issue, including our coalition partners Equality NC, MeckPAC, the Human Rights Campaign, and ACLU of NC. If you are a Charlotte resident and support the ordinance, you can attend the city council meeting tonight at 6:30 PM at 600 East Fourth Street. Wear blue in support of non-discrimination, and show up early if you want a seat. We’ll be live-tweeting tonight’s meeting. Earlier today I wrote the City Council the e-mail below asking them for their support of tonight’s ordinance. Let’s hope they do the right thing tonight.
Dear Mayor Roberts and the Charlotte City Council,
I know you’ve received a lot of messages about the non-discrimination ordinance you are voting on this evening, so I’ll keep my comments brief. Our organization wrote you last year requesting that you pass the ordinances proposed at that time. On behalf of our statewide membership, including over 2,000 residents of Charlotte, I’m making that same request today.
Approximately half of all people living with HIV and AIDS in North Carolina are gay, bisexual, or transgender, and HIV stigma and homophobia are closely linked. They reinforce each other, and prevent individuals from being their true selves and accessing healthcare, employment, and basic accommodations. Not everyone in our communities has legal protection against discrimination, and you can take one small step to change that tonight.
Please be in touch if I can answer any questions or provide information before your vote this evening.
All the best,
North Carolina AIDS Action Network