TLDEF's Efforts to Ensure Hate Crime Protections Featured in the NY Times

On Monday, the New York Times featured a story on TLDEF's efforts to ensure that bias-motivated attacks directed at the transgender community are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  The article focused on a forum that we organized last week with the Anti-Violence Project, Brooklyn Law School, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Make the Road New York, the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy and Queens Pride House.  The panel featured TLDEF clients Roxanne Green, mother of slain transgender woman Lateisha Green, and Carmella Etienne, who was the victim of a bias-motivated attack this past summer in New York City.  Both spoke powerfully about the impact that bias-motivated violence had on them, their families and their communities.

Hate-motivated crimes target more than just an individual.  They target a community, and they're meant to frighten and intimidate members of that community - to make them fear for their safety on the streets where they live, work and socialize.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to face tremendous amounts of bias-motivated violence.  In 2008, more than 2,400 people reported being victims of hate violence motivated by anti-LGBT bias.  Just this past weekend, 49-year-old Jack Price was beaten by two men in Queens who yelled anti-gay slurs.  Only a few weeks ago, transgender woman NaNa Boo Mack was brutally stabbed and killed while walking with a friend on the streets of Washington, D.C.  Her case remains unsolved.

In New York State, hate crime laws explicitly protect New Yorkers from attacks based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression.  At the federal level, LGBT people are excluded from hate crime laws.  These exclusions send a dangerous message that members of the LGBT community are not entitled to the same level of protection as everyone else.  Legislation that would remedy this lack of protection is pending in New York and at the federal level.  We'll continue to do all we can to educate the public about the importance of comprehensive protection for all members of the LGBT community, and to ensure that state and federal laws fully protect all members of the LGBT community.

Over the course of the coming months, with legislation pending in Albany and in Washington, there will be many opportunities for each of us to make an impact.  Please join with us in our efforts to ensure that members of the LGBT community are equally protected in our state and federal hate crime laws.  Together, we can make a difference!