South Bend is receiving national recognition for its efforts at promoting gender and sexual orientation equality among its residents.
The city scored a 67 out of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. The report rates cities across the country for municipal government policy responses on a range of LGBT issues.
South Bend’s score is 8 points higher than the national average of 59. The average among Indiana cities that were surveyed was 65.
Only Indianapolis scored higher than South Bend among Indiana cities. Indianapolis scored an 82, while Evansville scored a 56. Indiana’s second largest city, Fort Wayne, only received a 52. Bloomington, home to Indiana University and considered a liberal haven in the state, tied South Bend with a score of 67.
South Bend was credited for its non-discrimination laws both for sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. The ordinance passed in 2012 following several years of contentious debate and two failed votes.
HRC also recognized the city’s efforts with a Human Rights Commission, anti-bullying policy, non-discrimination in city employment, domestic partner health benefits and legal dependent benefits.
The report makes clear that South Bend could make a number of improvements to address the needs of the LGBT community. The city lacks services to support LGBT youth, elderly, homeless and people living with HIV/AIDS. It also does not have a non-discrimination ordinance for city contractors or a mayoral or police liaison to the LGBT community.
One of the easiest improvements would be to simply report hate crimes data to the FBI, which the city’s police department does not currently do.
“Although the annual FBI Hate Crimes Report is a part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, reporting hate crimes to the FBI is not mandatory,” Human Rights Campaign told the South Bend Voice.
“Moreover, many law enforcement agencies across the U.S. voluntarily submit hate crimes data. According to the 2012 FBI Hate Crimes Report—the latest available report—more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies from 48 states reported hate crimes in 2012.”
South Bend Voice reached out to Mayor Buttigieg’s office for comment. We did not receive a response at the time of publication. We will modify the story should we receive a response.
The full Human Rights Campaign report can be found below: