The Cleveland City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance Wednesday that lets transgenders use the bathroom according to their “gender identity” rather than their biological sex.
The ordinance, passed in a 16-0 vote, allows transgenders to use the locker room, changing room and bathroom of their choice, reports The Cleveland.com. It was first introduced in 2013 to expand on “anti-discrimination” rules for transgenders.
The ordinance makes it illegal to “refuse, deny, segregate, or discriminate, or make a distinction, either directly or indirectly, in offering its goods, services, facilities, or accommodations to any person,” including transgenders.
“We commend City Council members for setting a pro-equality example for other cities and states by soundly rejecting the dangerous, fear-mongering rhetoric many anti-equality activists are peddling across the country,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof.
The ordinance removes a passage that would have protected private business owners from having to let transgenders use the bathroom that corresponds with their “gender identity.” “Provided reasonable access to adequate facilities is available,” private business owners were able to decide what bathroom transgenders could use.
An earlier version of the ordinance declared that whoever breaks the rule will be guilty of committing a first degree misdemeanor. A first degree misdemeanor usually carries a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1000. Now, complaint must be filed in Cleveland’s fair housing court; the court has the power to issue a civil penalty, which, if ignored, could result in a first degree misdemeanor charge.
The legislation claims that religious organizations are exempt from it.
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