LGBT panel focuses on Scouts deal

LGBT panel focuses on Scouts deal

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Participants at last week’s panel discussion on the proposed Boy Scouts deal said it would violate local civil-rights laws if consummated, and must be opposed.

About 30 people attended the April 30 event at Temple University’s Center City campus, sponsored by Equality Forum, a weeklong LGBT civil-rights summit.

Panelists included Stephen A. Glassman, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission chair; attorney Arthur M. Kaplan, a member of the ACLU national board; and Dwayne J. Bensing, a student at Penn Law School.

Mayor Nutter wants to sell 231-251 N. 22nd St. to the Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council for $500,000 to settle a federal lawsuit.

In return, the Scouts will stop seeking about $960,000 in legal fees from the city.

In order to avoid public bidding, city officials plan to use the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development as an intermediary to transfer the property to the Scouts.

But critics of the deal say the property in question is worth much more than $500,000, and that the deal would violate a 1974 law that prohibits PAID from selling city property at a discount.

The law, known as Bill 1048, also bars an organization that discriminates on the basis of “creed” from purchasing city property through PAID.

Kaplan, who has followed the dispute for about 10 years, said approval of the deal would damage LGBT rights nationally.

“This is an important civil-rights issue. A settlement of this kind would give aid and comfort to subsidized discrimination elsewhere.”

— Tim Cwiek