Indiana pastor says ex-prisoners are more discriminated against than LGBTQ community

Members of the LGBT community march beside a giant rainbow flag during a gay pride parade.Reuters

A Christian pastor is opposing a proposed human rights ordinance in Valparaiso, Indiana, which seeks to address the alleged bias being experienced by the LGBTQ community.

The proposed ordinance from the Human Relations Council is expected to be an updated version of a 2011 human rights ordinance in the city.

It seeks to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Council's head Heath Carter, records from 2005 to 2009 point to a rise in reports of discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ community which have left them feeling unwelcome in the city.  In particular, there are claims that members of the LGBTQ have found it harder to acquire housing or jobs.

The draft ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, colour and sex among other things.

While members of the LGBTQ community have expressed support for the ordinance, Heartland Christian Center Pastor Phil Willingham said there were others in the community facing greater discrimination.

He said he saw no evidence of discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Valparaiso and that instead, evangelical Christians will be adversely affected by the ordinance as they may be sanctioned for opting not to provide services based on their religious beliefs, reported NWI Times.

"I want to see the ordinance to go away. I've personally not seen any evidence to see an ordinance like this is needed," he said. 

He also questioned the claim that finding housing or jobs is more difficult for members of the LGBTQ community.

"We have far more men and women coming out of local prison and jail system that cannot get jobs or housing because of a perception than any of the LGBTQ+ community," he said.