PHILADELPHIA – The Office of LGBT Affairs and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations release the following statement in response to the “Religious Freedom” memo released by Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“Last week, the U.S. Attorney General released a memo to federal agencies with instructions that tear at the very fabric of the rights all people are granted in this county. Hiding behind “religious freedom”, this dangerous guidance jeopardizes the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, particularly the LGBTQ community. Freedom of religion does not and should not ever give anyone the right to harm others or violate the rights of marginalized populations.

This guidance suggests that taxpayer-funded federal agencies, government employees, and government contractors and grantees may be allowed to refuse services to LGBTQ people or refuse to hire an LGBTQ person on the basis of religious beliefs without being held legally accountable for discrimination. The memo comes just one day after the Department of Justice announced they would no longer protect transgender Americans from workplace discrimination under Title VII. These attacks are aimed at systematically eroding the legal equality and even the basic dignity of LGBTQ people, and they are a devastating step back from ensuring equal rights for all Americans.

Philadelphia’s laws extensively protect people in the city from discrimination, but these continued erosions at the federal level are an alarming reminder that our neighbors throughout the state and country are not equally protected. The Office of LGBT Affairs and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations will continue to fight tooth and nail to protect the rights and liberties of all Philadelphians, because no one should ever be fired or refused service or housing because of who they are or who they love.”

Here is our most recent action guide, on the rights and protections of the LGBTQ Community in Philadelphia.