Pervasive Abuse of LGBTQ+ People and Those With HIV in Justice System: Report

Author: Trudy Ring

LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV experience alarming rates of abuse in the criminal legal system, says a new report from Lambda Legal in partnership with Black and Pink National.

The report, “Protected and Served? 2022,” is based on a survey of more than 2,500 people who had interacted with police, courts, jails, prisons, and other governmental institutions, and it includes quantitative data as well.

It “provides an unprecedented glimpse into the widespread harm caused to LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV through their interactions with these institutions,” says a Lambda Legal press release.

The report is a follow-up to one released in 2012. The new one includes, for the first time, input from community members who were detained in jails and prisons across the U.S. People in detention accounted for 16.5 percent of participants. An additional report, “Spotlight Report: Detained Participants,” goes into more detail about their experiences.

Among the findings of “Protected and Served? 2022”:

• About 18 percent of survey participants said they had “exchanged sex or sexual performance for money or other things of value” in the past five years, and half experienced some form of police misconduct when engaging in sex work. This misconduct included police confiscating their money or demanding sex in exchange for not arresting them.

• Abuse in detention is the norm, not the exception. An overwhelming majority (94.3 percent) of detained participants reported experiencing abuse in prisons and jails, including verbal assault, physical assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, other sexual contact, being referred to by the wrong name or pronoun, and being accused of an offense they did not commit.

• Nearly two-thirds of those in detention experienced a two-week or longer interruption of their medication routine, including hormone replacement therapy, antiretrovirals, heart medications, and psychotropic medications.

• In the courts, transgender participants of color were more likely to have their transgender status inappropriately revealed than white trans participants — 38 percent versus 22 percent.

• Participants who had face-to-face encounters with police in the past five years (57 percent) were less likely to trust the police than those who did not.

The report offers recommendations to help address these issues, such as supporting trans, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary-led movements; supporting court reform efforts; decriminalizing sex work and HIV; eliminating barriers to legal recourse for people in detention; working to keep LGBTQ+ young people safe in schools; and banning profiling and other discriminatory law enforcement practices.

“Everyone who interacts with the criminal legal system, including LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV, must be treated fairly and have legal rights that must be protected,” Richard Saenz, Lambda Legal senior attorney and “Protected and Served?” project manager, said in the press release. “It is urgent and imperative that we address the root causes and devastating consequences of the obscene levels of abuse, discrimination, and misconduct reported throughout the criminal legal system – and hold those responsible accountable. We hope this report is an additional resource for community members, policy makers, and advocates.”

“The ‘Protected and Served?’ report is a critical tool for understanding the pervasive harms and injustices faced by incarcerated LGBTQ+ people,” added Black and Pink National Executive Director Dr. Tatyana Moaton. “We can shift the narrative and demand systemic change by amplifying the voices and experiences of those directly impacted. Our collective responsibility is to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their incarceration status or identity, are protected and served with dignity and humanity.”

Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, an LGBTQ-led research, evaluation, and philanthropic strategy firm, facilitated the survey and coauthored the report.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring


My name is David but my online nick almost everywhere is Altabear. I'm a web developer, graphic artist and outspoken human rights (and by extension, mens rights) advocate. Married to my gorgeous husband for 12 years, together for 25 and living with our partner of 4 years, in beautiful Edmonton, Canada.

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