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Human Rights Commission

Newton Human Rights Award

The Newton Human Rights Award recognizes an individual who, by his or her efforts has improved the quality of life in Newton by promoting greater understanding and appreciation of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or ancestry, or by working to reduce discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, or education. The award is based on a person's overall commitment to human rights work. Every year the Newton Human Rights Commission also recognizes Newton high school students for their involvement and advocacy in human rights issues. We are now accepting nominations for these awards. Nominations are due November 8, 2019.

To nominate an adult, click here to download a submission form or click here to complete an online form.

To nominate a young person, click here to download a submission form or click here to complete an online form.

About Us:

The City of Newton established the Newton Human Rights Commission in 1973 to ensure mutual understanding and respect among all persons in the City by promoting acceptance of diversity and combating discrimination. The Commissioners and Advisory Council members come from all walks of life and are volunteers who live or work in Newton. 

What we do:

  • Educate the public by presenting informative programs and discussions on human rights issues.
  • Collaborate with residents, school staff, students, and businesses to support Newton's diversity initiatives.
  • Resolve complaints of local discrimination through mediation or referral to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Human Rights Commission Ordinance (2014)

Human Rights Commission Brochure

LGBTQ+ Resource Guide


HRC meetings are open to the public. We meet at 7:00 pm in Room B15, on the basement level of Newton City Hall (unless otherwise noted). Upcoming meetings:

  • November 12, 2019 - please note that this meeting will start at 6:00 pm
  • December 3, 2019 (Human Rights Award Night, location TBD)
  • January 14, 2020
  • February 4, 2020 - please note that this meeting will start at 6:00 pm
  • March 3, 2020
  • April 7, 2020
  • May 5, 2020
  • June 2, 2020 (Pride flag raising, south lawn of City Hall)
  • July 7, 2020

The location of this meeting is wheelchair accessible and reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities who require assistance. If you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the City of Newton’s ADA/Sec. 504 Coordinator, Jini Fairley, at least two business days in advance of the meeting: or (617) 796-1253. The City’s TTY/TDD direct line is: (617) 796-1089. For the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), please dial 711.

News and Events

Open to All

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case found in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In response to this verdict, the Human Rights Campaign  (HRC), a national organization fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community, created a sign designed to allow businesses to proudly state that they will not turn away anyone based on who they are or whom they love.

The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber is working with a group of local organizers to blanket Needham and Newton with signs stating that local businesses are #OpenToAll.

If you would like to display a free sign for the window of your place of business or add this logo to your company's website, please click here. (A volunteer will deliver a free sign to your business). Posters are also available at the Newton City Hall in the Mayor's Office.

2018 Pride Flag Raising



Click here to see NewTV's coverage of the 2018 Pride Flag Raising ceremony (the story starts around the 1 minute mark).

Vote Yes

In November 2018, voters in Massachusetts will be asked at the ballot box whether to uphold the law that protects transgender people from discrimination in public places, such as restaurants, shops, and hospitals. Voting yes will uphold the law which protects dignity and respect for transgender individuals in Massachusetts. Click here for a printable document that explains the ballot question.

Days of Remembrance: Honoring Victims of Genocide

Every April, the Newton Human Rights Commission takes time to honor the memory of the victims of genocide and reaffirm our commitment to counter intolerance that leads to group-targeted violence. Through education, we hope to help turn "Again and Again" into "Never Again." We invite you to view our slide show that defines genocide, provides information on examples of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries, and gives you ideas on what you can do to help combat the problem.

Statement from February 7, 2017 Meeting

We, the Newton Human Rights Commission, support the Welcoming City Ordinance proposed by Mayor Warren, Police Chief MacDonald, and all co-docketers, including many city councilors and former Mayor David Cohen. 

We believe this ordinance promotes the mission of the Human Rights Commission by affirming Newton as a safe and welcoming city for all, regardless of immigration status.

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