Mardi Gras Bias Laws Softened in New Orleans

Reuters

The City Council agreed unanimously Thursday to soften a controversial Mardi Gras anti-discrimination law targeting the mostly white, male clubs that sponsor the celebration.

The ordinance had threatened to disrupt this year's Mardi Gras and has cast a pall over plans for 1993.

The council adopted a series of amendments drafted by a special biracial commission named by Mayor Sidney Barthelemy. As amended, the law allows krewes, or clubs, to remain segregated by sex or sexual orientation, but prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.

The original ordinance would have denied parade permits beginning in 1994 to any krewe that had membership barriers such as race, sex, national origin, religion or sexual preference.

Krewes had to prove they did not discriminate before they could get a parade permit and leaders faced $300 fines and jail time if their krewes discriminated.

After two of the city's oldest clubs canceled their 1992 parades and others threatened to do so, the council lifted the jail time.

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