Current Affairs

Homophobia rife in US police force Amnesty Report claims

Katherine Knowles March 23, 2006
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Thousands of gay bisexual and lesbian people are victims of abuse, discrimination and even torture, claims a new Amnesty International report published today.

The report, “Stonewalled – Still demanding respect”, is based on extensive interviews that the human rights organisation conducted with gay people, law enforcers activists and lawyers.

“The interviews reveal a very clear and worrying pattern. Cases of beatings, sexual violence, verbal abuse, harassment and humiliation by law enforcement officials against LGBT people take place,” said Amnesty International.

Examples of brutality from law officials towards gay people in the report include a woman who was raped at gunpoint by a former County Deputy for being a lesbian. She told Amnesty that he vowed to “Teach her a lesson”.

A transgender woman said that she had been cuffed, beaten and verbally abused by police in Los Angeles who told her “that’s what you deserve”.

The report revealed that transgender or gay members of ethnic minority groups were especially at risk of police abuse.

In 2004 a women from Athens, Georgia, said she was forced into her apartment at gunpoint by a former County Deputy and raped because she is a lesbian. She said the officer vowed to “teach her a lesson”.

Within the LGBT community in the USA, transgender people, members of ethnic or racial minorities, young people and immigrants are particular targets of police abuse. The report revealed that victims did not often report the abuse that they had suffered because it would mean going back to police who had attacked them.

The report said that “the bigger problem is the discriminatory way in which many laws are applied, which often results in the arrest and detention of individuals just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity”.

Amnesty is calling on the US federal and State authorities to investigate all the allegations of sexual, physical and verbal abuse. “Effective reform requires the backing of the highest ranks. There needs to be a fundamental understanding of the right to freely express one’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Amnesty International.

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