GetEQUAL Texas — a statewide grassroots social justice organization working toward the full equality of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Texans — issued a "travel alert" to any LGBT person planning travel to the San Antonio area. This alert has been issued based on the fact that San Antonio — the 7th largest city in the country — refuses to pass a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT travelers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite investing significant funding into its tourist industry, the City of San Antonio has continued to postpone a vote on this important non-discrimination ordinance. Although the San Antonio City Council has expressed an interest in revising the city ordinances to prohibit discrimination against LGBT travelers in public accommodations (i.e. hotel stays, restaurant visits, etc.), city officials have repeatedly delayed a vote on the ordinance amendments and those who support discrimination against LGBT people — such as City Councilwoman Elisa Chan — have been very vocal in their opposition.
"Having been raised in San Antonio, I’ve experienced discrimination repeatedly within the borders of the city," said Jay Morris, Co-Lead Organizer for GetEQUAL Texas. "Despite calling the San Antonio Police Department after being the victim of a violent hate crime, I was removed from the building and my attackers walked free. No police report was filed and I had no mechanism after the attack to report the incident or to help prevent such an event from happening in the future. If the City Council refuses to pass this non-discrimination ordinance, I worry for the safety of other LGBT residents of and travelers to the city."
"The rule of law in San Antonio supports discrimination, plain and simple," added Jennifer Falcon, San Antonio Lead Organizer for GetEQUAL Texas. "Our local officials are dragging their feet, there is no state law to help us, and there are no federal laws in place we can rely on for protection. If the city really wants to welcome all people, they would take action immediately to pass this non-discrimination ordinance and end the fear of discrimination by LGBT travelers to our city."
Adam Greenup, the LGBT Liaison to Mayor Julian Castro, has indicated that a vote on the proposed ordinance amendments will take place on September 5, 2013 — though after many previous such promises of votes, local advocates are not optimistic. "The City Council has delayed this vote over and over again. With every delay, San Antonio sends the message to LGBT visitors that they are not welcome in our city," said Falcon.
In response to repeated delays and recent attacks on LGBT people in the media, GetEQUAL Texas has issued the following travel alert for all LGBT people planning travel to San Antonio. This extends to families, tourists, meeting planners, convention-goers, business travelers, and all others who might be considering travel to the area.
TRAVEL ALERT –SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Effective immediately. Expires on September 6, 2013, unless renewed.
GetEQUAL TX alerts those traveling to San Antonio, Texas of a continued risk of discrimination based upon sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The City of San Antonio does not currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender ("LGBT") people from being legally ejected from their hotel rooms or other places of public accommodation. Although city officials are attempting to correct the issue for LGBT travelers, hundreds have appeared on the streets in front of council demanding that such discrimination discontinue.
Additionally, those supporting discrimination have been seen screaming obscenities and derogatory slurs in the faces of LGBT people on the streets of San Antonio. These opponents of equality have targeted LGBT people at and near City Hall, and within various city parks.
Those who are required to travel to San Antonio are encouraged to take the following precautions:
- Avoid traveling alone in the city.
- Only book travel at hotels which have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Visit only known LGBT-friendly establishments, including restaurants, bars and venues (see http://www.glyp.com for a listing of some locations).
- Be aware of your surroundings and adopt other appropriate safety measures to protect yourself while traveling.
If you experience discrimination while visiting San Antonio, please report it to GetEQUAL TX’s discrimination hotline at 707-992-LGBT (5428).
GetEQUAL TX will continue to work closely with the City Council to protect all persons within the city from discrimination. Information is routinely shared between GetEQUAL TX and our key partners in order to end discrimination within the city by identifying and taking action against those promoting, encouraging, and engaging in discriminatory behavior.