Press Release • April 28, 2021

Asheville City Council Unanimously Passes LGBTQ-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Ordinance, Building Momentum in Western North Carolina

Asheville's ordinance becomes the 8th in North Carolina protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination, one week after passage from Buncombe County Commission.

April 27, 2021

Adam Polaski | Campaign for Southern Equality | | 610-306-7956

James Michael Nichols | Equality NC |

ASHEVILLE, NC – Today the Asheville City Council voted 7-0 to pass an ordinance that protects residents from discrimination based on race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, pregnancy, veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, or disability. The ordinance ensures protections in employment and places of public accommodations – such as restaurants and businesses. Studies have shown that 1 in 3 LGBTQ people – including 3 in 5 transgender people – have experienced discrimination in the past year.

The passage comes on the heels of a similar ordinance covering residents in Buncombe County, NC. That ordinance passed on Tuesday, April 20 by a 6-0 vote. With Asheville's ordinance, a total of eight communities have passed LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances: Asheville, Buncombe County, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, and Orange County.

The vote also comes a day after the Asheville City Board of Education passed a resolution opposing the NC General Assembly bill HB358, which would restrict transgender student athletes from participating in school sports.

Polling shows that 67% of people in North Carolina support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

Allison Scott, Director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality, spoke at the Council meeting in support of the ordinance. She said after passage of the ordinance:

"It's been a big week for the LGBTQ community here in Western North Carolina, with inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances passing in both Buncombe County and the city of Asheville and the city's Board of Education taking action to support transgender students. As a lifelong resident and a transgender woman, I'm proud of my city and county for taking action to declare that they see and support the LGBTQ community. The push for fairness and equality in North Carolina is truly a statewide movement – and together, we're showing that NC is unequivocally ready for LGBTQ protections."

Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, said:

"With our transgender brothers, sisters, and siblings facing attacks both on the streets and in the legislature, it's encouraging to see cities in North Carolina continue to take steps to protect their LGBTQ citizens. Nondiscrimination ordinances won't end the epidemic of violence targeting our most vulnerable community members, but they do send a signal that North Carolina is moving towards a new chapter where LGBTQ folks and Black and Brown North Carolinians can live their lives peacefully and free from discrimination. We hope other cities will join this movement for a safer, more compassionate North Carolina in the months ahead."

Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality, NC-based organizations that work toward LGBTQ equality, urge local elected officials to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances through NC is Ready for LGBTQ Protections (

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Equality North Carolina builds LGBTQ+ power through advocacy, education, and uplifting the stories of queer and trans North Carolinians in pursuit of racial and social justice.

Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality promotes full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.

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