Parker: HERO not a tool for sexual predators

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Mayor Annise Parker continued to swat down concerns that the city's stalled Equal Rights Ordinance would allow sexual predators to prowl public restrooms during a radio show on Tuesday.

Parker discussed the court challenge surrounding HERO during an “Ask the Mayor” segment on News 92 FM, then faced a question from a caller who focused on the oft-repeated – and discredited – claims of opponents that the ordinance would protect men who dress as women so they can attack them in restrooms.

“What I hear over and over again is that this is a way for sexual predators to put on a dress and sneak into a women's restroom,” Parker said. “If a sexual predator wants to do that they can do that today. It is illegal for a man to go into a women's restroom. It is illegal, whether they are in disguise or not, to go to any public place for the intention of committing a crime. So those things are still illegal but this is a matter of practicality.”

Parker also pointed to the Houston Independent School District, which she said has had a measure similar to HERO in place for nearly three years – without incident.

“Most of the other big cities in America have passed similar ordinances and there has not been a single recorded case of which I am aware where someone has tried to use the ordinance to commit a crime. And we would prosecute them if they did,” Parker said.

On Friday, HERO opponents dropped their request for a temporary injunction, which paved the way for a Jan. 19 trial date for the lawsuit filed against the measure. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month after the city threw out thousands of signatures on a petition seeking a public vote for HERO.

Parker said on News 92 FM that opponents failed to meet the high bar spelled out in the city charter for repealing an ordinance, even though she thought they would.

“Frankly, I had expected that they would easily get enough signatures and they did get enough signatures to put it on the ballot, but those signatures have to be collected in a certain way. In essence, they were thrown out on a technicality,” Parker said.

Parker suspended enforcement of the ordinance on Aug. 4 to “hash out the issues in court.”

On Tuesday, Parker is scheduled to attend a HERO Volunteer Appreciation Event at MCC Resurrection Church.

Listen above to Parker's discussion about HERO with News 92 FM's Lana Hughes.

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