- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Issues affecting LGBTQ people, particularly ones that disproportionately affect those of color, will be a focus of a task force the mayor of New Orleans said she will create.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Sunday the task force will study issues LGBTQ people face and submit recommendations for solutions to the city’s Human Relations Commission, news outlets report. The commission will oversee the task force and recommend candidates to serve on it.

Cantrell said she will create a city strategy guided by the recommendations.

The mayor made the announcement during a service at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church commemorating the 45th anniversary of an arson fire that killed 32 men at the UpStairs Lounge, a French Quarter gay bar.

The Office for Victims of Crime, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, reports that two-thirds of the transgender community have been victims of sexual assault, a statement from Cantrell’s office said. Roughly half of hate crimes are against the LGBTQ community, which also has far higher rates of HIV contraction between people of color than the white non-transgender segment.

Most indicators suggest those living in New Orleans face even greater inequities, the mayor’s statement said.

SarahJane Brady with the Forum for Equality Louisiana told The New Orleans Advocate the task force is necessary and will expose discrimination. Brady said New Orleans is a beautiful and diverse city but still struggles with bias, discrimination and inequality.

Vincenzo Pasquantonio, executive director of the commission, said more information about the appointments and a timeline for when the work will be completed will be available in coming weeks.

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