TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa and St. Petersburg both received perfect scores in this year's Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign.

What You Need To Know

  •  Eight cities in Florida received perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality index

  •  In the Tampa Bay area, St. Petersburg and Tampa received perfect scores

  •  Cities were rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services and more

  • The president and CEO of the Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber says being known as inclusive is important when it comes to businesses locating and growing in an area

"It's incredibly important for the cities to showcase to their community that they are, in fact, inclusive," said Justice Gennari, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber. "And what better way to do that than to receive 100% on the Human Rights Campaign equality index?" 

The index rates cities around the nation based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership. This year's scores might not come as a surprise to the people behind the businesses in the seven counties covered by the chamber.

"Many of our members in our community feel that no matter what's happening at the state level, Tampa Bay is still an inclusive place to live, work, and play, and to be able to thrive. Our community here has an incredible rich culture and embraces diversity," Gennari said.

At the state level, legislators passed a series of laws and regulations this year that impacted the LGBTQ community, including a ban on puberty blockers and other treatments for trans youth and prohibiting public colleges from using federal and state money on diversity programs. In response, the Human Rights Campaign, along with Equality Florida, issued travel advisories for the state. Gennari said people who live outside Tampa Bay may draw conclusions on the region based on that.

"What they're seeing on the news and TV is incredibly disheartening of what's happening at our state capital and the attacks against LGBTQ+ individuals and many different minorities throughout the state," he said. "But with that, once they come here, they come to Tampa Bay, they're able to see that we are an inclusive place."

Gennari said being known as an inclusive city is important when it comes to businesses wanting to locate and grow in an area.

"Let's face it, our local community leaders do change," he said. "They term out, and new leaders are elected, but with that, it's still at the forefront of everyone's plans." 

St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch said in a statement, "Achieving a perfect score on the Municipal Equality Index for ten consecutive years is a source of pride for all of St. Petersburg. Not only does this accomplishment demonstrate our commitment to maintaining an inclusive environment for our LGBTQ+ community, but it shows that we embrace and affirm all residents, ensuring that our city remains a welcoming place for everyone."

Eight cities in Florida received perfect scores, including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.