"Atlanta will always be a place where everyone can follow their heart. As your Mayor, I stand with you offering the political will and the political capital to ensure that it remains true."
Atlanta takes pride in the city’s reputation as the “capital of the Gay South” and as a “Black Gay Mecca.” While LGBTQ communities are represented across metro Atlanta’s neighborhoods, Midtown, in the heart of the city, boasts permanent rainbow crosswalks painted across the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue near Piedmont Park. Installed in 2017, the intersection celebrates Atlanta’s unity, acceptance and pride.
For the last seven years, the City of Atlanta has achieved a perfect 100 rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index Scorecard (2013-2019), which examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Atlanta received bonus points for openly LGBTQ elected or appointed municipal leaders. The details of the 2019 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard for Atlanta may be viewed online.
ONE ATLANTA. Equality Forward.
The City of Atlanta is committed to the fair treatment of all Atlantans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer residents and visitors. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms named the City’s first-ever full-time LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator and established the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board within her first 100 days in office two years ago. The Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board fosters intentional collaboration between City Hall and Atlanta’s LGBTQ communities to advocate for everyone across the Atlanta metro region, in order to protect and advance the lives of residents, workers, and visitors.
The City’s Biennial Report on LGBTQ Affairs is available at https://atlgbtq.atlantaga.gov/BiennialReport.pdf
The City’s LGBTQ Resource Website is https://atlgbtq.atlantaga.gov/
Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade
Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade is one of the oldest LGBTQ events in the country and draws 300,000 people to the city each October. Local businesses and corporations flock to support the event, including corporate sponsors Coca-Cola, Cox Enterprises, IHG, Delta Air Lines, MailChimp, among others. The Atlanta Pride Committee is Georgia’s oldest non-profit agency serving the LGBTQ community. It serves as an advocate and resource for sexually diverse communities and operates 60 educational, social and historical programs each year, as well as community reinvestment initiatives. The city also hosts Atlanta Black Pride, one of the largest black gay pride celebrations in the world. It’s been running for more than 20 years and draws over 75,000 attendees each September.
Pride School Atlanta
Pride school Atlanta , a private nonprofit school for students ages 9-18, exists to provide LGBTQ educators, students and families a rigorous and fun learning environment, free of homophobia and transphobia. The school is a place that honors identities so students may be themselves and find friends and mentors who can help them navigate the challenges of life and education.
Atlanta Police Department
The Atlanta Police Department is committed to establishing, providing and maintaining a direct channel of communication to address and resolve matters pertaining to the LGBTQ community and to LGBTQ employees of the Atlanta Police Department. The LGBTQ Liaison Unit promotes cooperation between the Atlanta Police Department and the community, while taking a leading role in building a vital link between the police and the LGBTQ community. The Unit collaborates with community leaders, residents and businesses within the City of Atlanta to design and implement public safety projects and programs.
Best Places to Work
Many of the metro Atlanta’s have earned the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, InterContinental Hotels Group Americas, Kabbage, NCR, Southern Company, UPS, and other Atlanta-based businesses received perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index 2020 which is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees.
OUT Georgia Business Alliance advocates for an inclusive and equitable business environment; provides support and resources to fuel economic growth; and drives meaningful community connections and impact across the state of Georgia. OUT Georgia Business Alliance’s Board of Directors is comprised of LGBTQ+ and allied business owners, corporate leaders, and community members dedicated to serving Georgia’s LGBTQ+ and allied business community. Some corporate partners include Georgia Power, Delta, and Cox Enterprises.
The Metro Atlanta Association of Professionals (MAAP) is an inclusive, diverse, business networking group that focuses on connecting and developing LGBTQ+ professionals in the Atlanta area.
"With the bold leadership of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, this city is sending a powerful message to every LGBTQ person, especially our young people."
In 2000, the City of Atlanta passed a local ordinance protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In July 2013, the City Council expanded the law to include protections from discrimination based on gender identity. The city’s non-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, creed, religion, sex, marital status, parental status, familial status, national origin, age and disability. These non-discrimination laws apply to employment, housing and treatment of customers.
In 2016, Georgia’s former governor Nathan Deal vetoed HB 757, one of several “Religious Freedom” acts that were passed by state legislators after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.
In 2017, Georgia’s General Assembly seated four LGBT lawmakers – the most of any legislature in the South and among the largest contingents in legislative assemblies across the nation.
During the 2017 legislative session, a “Religious Freedom” bill (SB 233) was introduced, but never won the majority votes needed to advance through the Legislature. There were attempts to attach “Religious Freedom” bills and other anti-LGBT amendments to unrelated legislation, but those were tabled and did not advance.
Along with “Religious Freedom” legislation, a bill to update Georgia’s adoption laws (HB 159) was introduced in 2017. The bill was set to advance through the legislature until attempts were made to allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ+ adoption or foster care parents. These attempts were eventually halted, and HB 159 passed the following year without any discriminatory language included in the bill.
Faith-based adoption bills that would allow discrimination against prospective LGBTQ+ adoption and foster care parents have since been introduced in 2019 and 2020 but have never achieved final passage within the Georgia Legislature.
Business Community Advocacy for Non-Discrimination Legislation
The business community is engaged and plays an active role in shaping legislation that would impact Georgia’s reputation.
In 2016, Georgia’s business community formed Georgia Prospers to make the business case for inclusion and diversity as cornerstones for economic prosperity and to denounce state-sanctioned discrimination. Created by a coalition of more than 600 businesses, including Coca-Cola, First Data, Google, and Marriott, the organization is dedicated to promoting non-discrimination policies and equal treatment for all. Businesses agree that a united Georgia is a prosperous Georgia. Each Georgia Prospers company accepts a pledge that states, “[…] we must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Public Policy team defends against legislative measures that are discriminatory in nature. Since 2016, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Public Policy team has successfully defeated pushes to advance “Religious Discrimination” and “faith-based adoption” legislation that would allow entities receiving taxpayer dollars to refuse to adopt to prospective parents because of their religious practices or sexual orientation each year. Their efforts have helped to retain Georgia’s reputation as the #1 state for doing business while being equal and open to all.