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July 06, 2017

Philly can now temporarily close businesses for violating anti-discrimination laws

Laws Discrimination
Philadelphia City Hall Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia City Hall

The city of Philadelphia now has the authority to shut down a business if it repeatedly violates anti-discrimination laws.

Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill in June that amends the city's Protections Against Unlawful Discrimination to allow the Commission on Human Relations to order a business to cease operations for a "specified period of time" if it fails to address severe or multiple violations.

City Councilman Derek Green introduced the legislation in an attempt to address reports of racism in the city's Gayborhood, according to the Inquirer.

“Any form of discrimination or intimidation on the basis of one’s ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, income or other demographic, is an impediment to the growth of not just our city, but to our nation,” Green said

Kenney also signed a bill from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson that increases penalties for certain forms of ethnic intimidation and institutional vandalism.

The new law expands institutional vandalism's definition to include headstones and gravesites, a response to vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in the Wissinoming neighborhood earlier this year.

“There is simply no place for anti-Semitism or any other type of hate in the City of Philadelphia, and I hope that this legislation will make the City’s position clear to all those who would seek to intimidate our citizens," Johnson said.

Both laws went into effect immediately.