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LGBTI chambers of commerce in Texas form coalition to combat discrimination

LGBTI chambers of commerce in Texas form coalition to combat discrimination

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Four LGBTI chambers of commerce in Texas have formed a coalition to promote inclusivity and equality in the state.

The chambers from Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and North Texas formed the Texas LGBT Chambers of Commerce to ‘achieve equality and inclusion by promoting economic vitality in our communities and strengthening LGBT and ally businesses’.

The groups represent more than 1,000 LGBTI-owned or allied businesses and almost 19 million Texans.

The four organizations formed the coalition in response to efforts by Republicans to introduce anti-LGBTI measures, they said in a press release.

‘1,000+ LGBTQ and Allied businesses’

‘The 1,000+ LGBTQ and Allied businesses of the Chambers speak with one voice,’ it says on the group’s website.

‘We call upon our local elected representatives to introduce or support legislation that supports diversity in the workplace and opposes discrimination. We know, in Texas, when business thrives, people prosper. For this to happen, all Texans must be included and respected.’

Renee Garvens, president of the San Antonio chamber, released a statement praising the move.

‘By joining forces with the Texas LGBT Chambers of Commerce, members of the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce gain strength when it comes to fighting for LGBT issues that impact businesses in the Alamo City and across our great state,’ Garvens’ statement said.

Representatives from the groups will meet for an Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol on February 20, in what will be one of the LGBT Chambers’ first events.

A long way to go

While LGBTI rights in Texas have improved in recent years, there remain significant obstacles in the way of achieving equality.

Last year the Movement Advancement Project found that Texas had no protections for people based on their sexual orientation.

In the past, conservative religious groups have actively advocated for legislation which would discriminate against LGBTI people on the grounds of ‘religious freedoms’.

Many of the anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTI rights are also confined to metropolitan centers, with more rural areas having fewer protections for the LGBTI community.

Texas was one of 28 US states which received the lowest ranking in the Human Rights Campaign’s fifth annual State Equality Index, released last month.