Cantrell calls for creation of LGBTQ+ Task Force on 45th anniversary of UpStairs Lounge fire

NEW ORLEANS - Mayor LaToya Cantrell called for the creation of an LGBTQ+ task force on the 45th anniversary of the UpStairs Lounge arson attack.

Speaking at a memorial service at St. Mark's United Methodist Church on June 24, Cantrell said more needs to be done to address the needs of the LGBTQ+ community in New Orleans.

“We recognize that deep disparities exist within the LGBTQ+ community itself,” Cantrell said. “The concerns of our most marginalized residents can often be overlooked even within the LGBTQ+ movement as a whole.”

Thirty-two people died in a raging fire at the UpStairs Lounge in 1973, a crime that was never solved.

Today, an estimated 66 percent of the transgender community has survived sexual assault, while HIV rates and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people of color continue to skyrocket, according to Cantrell’s office.

“To address these problems, Cantrell has called for the creation of a Task Force that would work with the City’s Human Relations Commission

The Task Force would be responsible for creating a strategy to directly address the challenges faced by the most marginalized segments of LGBTQ+ residents.

The Human Relations Commission, which is the city’s human rights commission, will not need to be created since it has already existed since 1989, when it was established in Chapter 86 of the City Code. The Commission is under the mayor’s office, and the task force will be reporting to the commission and developing recommendations to the administration.

“We hope that announcing this initiative will send a powerful message of care and concern for these communities, and to the LGBTQ+ community as a whole,” Cantrell said.