Click here to sign the NO2ID refuse pledge

Friday, September 30, 2005

Stonewalled : Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the U.S.

Amnesty International

1. Introduction

In August 2002, Kelly McAllister, a white transgender woman, was arrested in Sacramento, California. Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies ordered McAllister from her truck and when she refused, she was pulled from the truck and thrown to the ground. Then, the deputies allegedly began beating her. McAllister reports that the deputies pepper-sprayed her, hog-tied her with handcuffs on her wrists and ankles, and dragged her across the hot pavement. Still hog-tied, McAllister was then placed in the back seat of the Sheriff’s patrol car. McAllister made multiple requests to use the restroom, which deputies refused, responding by stating, "That’s why we have the plastic seats in the back of the police car." McAllister was left in the back seat until she defecated in her clothing. While being held in detention at the Sacramento County Main Jail, officers placed McAllister in a bare basement holding cell. When McAllister complained about the freezing conditions, guards reportedly threatened to strip her naked and strap her into the "restraint chair"(1) as a punitive measure. Later, guards placed McAllister in a cell with a male inmate. McAllister reports that he repeatedly struck, choked and bit her, and proceeded to rape her. McAllister sought medical treatment for injuries received from the rape, including a bleeding anus. After a medical examination, she was transported back to the main jail where she was again reportedly subjected to threats of further attacks by male inmates and taunted by the Sheriff’s staff with accusations that she enjoyed being the victim of a sexual assault.(2) Reportedly, McAllister attempted to commit suicide twice. The Sheriff's Department opened an investigation into the alleged rape, and the inmate accepted a plea for "unlawful intercourse in jail" and was sentenced to three months in jail. Despite having filed a full report with the Sheriff's Department, no Sheriff’s Deputy has been disciplined for the incidents surrounding McAllister’s incarceration.(3)


On 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the West Village in New York City. What happened next has been described and written about in countless articles and books.(4) In the history of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement in the United States, the Stonewall riots, an act of defiance against police abuse and repression, is often cited as its defining moment. Black and Puerto Rican transgender women, "butch" lesbians, and homeless street youth were among those who led the rioting, which lasted several days. The police action that precipitated the historical event was by no means unusual—police raids of gay bars were commonplace at the time. What was remarkable was the sustained and intense organized response by the LGBT community to the police action that galvanized a movement and captured the imagination of generations of LGBT activists.

Since Stonewall, significant progress has been made by the LGBT movement in the U.S. in confronting human rights abuses perpetrated by law enforcement. As the LGBT movement has grown in strength across the country, the LGBT community has become more capable of holding local police departments accountable for their treatment of LGBT people. Passage of anti-discrimination legislation at the local level in some jurisdictions has greatly facilitated this progress. Increasingly, police forces across the country provide some level of sensitivity training towards working with the LGBT community. Despite this progress, the findings of this report clearly indicate that the problem of police misconduct persists. AI has documented serious patterns of police misconduct and brutality aimed at LGBT people, including abuses that amount to torture and ill treatment.

AI’s findings strongly indicate that police abuse and the forms this takes are often specific to the different aspects of the victim’s identity, such as sexual orientation,(5) race, gender(6) or gender identity,(7) age or economic status. Identities are complex, multi-layered, and intersectional, such that a person may be targeted for human rights violations based on a composite of identities that that person seems to represent. For example, a lesbian woman who is black may not only be a target of police abuse because of her sexual orientation but also because she is a woman of color. The targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for discriminatory enforcement of laws and their treatment in the hands of police needs to be understood within the larger context of identity-based discrimination, and the interplay between different forms of discrimination—such as racism, sexism, homophobia(8) and transphobia(9)—create the conditions in which human rights abuses are perpetuated.

Much of Amnesty’s research has clearly demonstrated that discrimination, the systematic denial of rights to certain people, is a grave human rights abuse and can often lead to further human rights abuses.(10) Institutionalized discrimination dehumanizes its victim, who is deemed as someone who can be treated inhumanely. Institutionalized discrimination feeds impunity, denies justice and can incite violence against targeted people or groups. Discriminatory practices and policies have tremendous consequences for targeted groups not only in terms of the nature of their ill-treatment by government agents or society at large, but also in terms of their access to redress and equal protection under the law. Discrimination also often leads to a lack of official action, such as investigations into alleged abuses, which further reinforces impunity.

This report confirms that in the U.S., LGBT people continue to be targeted for human rights abuses by the police based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

I strongly suggest that you read this.. It's a long read, but a worthy one.

Beauty therapy for Indian eunuchs

By Paddy Maguire
BBC News, Chennai

Eunuchs in southern India are training as therapists and beauticians in a move to integrate them in a society which largely shuns them.
In Tamil Nadu state there are an estimated 150,000 eunuchs (or "aruvani" as they now prefer to be called).
Most eke out a living by begging and many end up working in the sex industry.
The new scheme is the brainchild of M Nikkila, a Madras (Chennai) based beautician and therapist.
"Four years ago I saw one eunuch beggar being mercilessly harassed by the public. These days they have no place in society, no rights, no jobs.
"So I thought I would train them to become beauty therapists. This course is the first step."

Bishop defends transsexual curate


The Bishop of Hereford has defended the decision to ordain a transsexual woman as a priest.
Assistant curate Sarah Jones, 44, from Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, spent the first 29 years of her life living as a man.
Evangelical group Evangelical Alliance said there was no "Christian acknowledgement" of gender realignment.
But the Right Reverend Anthony Priddis said Ms Jones - being ordained on Saturday - was "made and loved by God".