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Reported by April Taylor
The prevalence of racial profiling is never far from many people’s minds, but profiling of African American LGBT people is not often talked about. US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a plan to begin collecting data on stops, searches, and arrests by federal law enforcement officials in an effort to support his newly proposed ban on profiling that is based on sëxual orientation and/or gender identity.
A collaboration of organizations have released a federal policy road map meant to address the unjust profiling, policing, and punishment of LGBT people. The collaboration took place between the Center for American Progress, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, and Streetwise and Safe. The group points out that LGBT are disproportionately represented in the penal system with 73 percent members of the LGBT community having an encounter with law enforcement in the last year and 48 percent members of the LGBT community seeking protection from police misconduct. The same studies also show that LGBT people report higher incidences of physical and sëxual abuse that stem from encounters with law enforcement. These numbers only increase for LGBT people of color because they face discrimination that stems from homophobia or transphobia as well as racial bias.
Attorney General Holder can use the work done by community based organizations to make some very clear steps towards eliminating the discrimination faced by LGBT people of color. These include making sure that all forms of profiling are banned, ending law enforcement authorities’ ability to confiscate and cite for possession of cοndoms as evidence of a crime, and end immigration enforcement programs that only enable discriminatory practices by law enforcement agencies. True equality means that all people, no matter what race, gender, age, religion, or sëxual orientation must be free from institutionalized discrimination, and it is time that LGBT people of color be free from the oppression of a system that discriminates against them on multiple fronts.