Are you a member of the LGBTQIA+ community who suffered police brutality in Philadelphia? Nobody deserves discrimination or abuse based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This type of abuse is particularly egregious when it happens at the hands of law enforcement. When members of the LGBTQ community are the subject of police brutality, it is vital to address and counter this misconduct by taking legal action under state and federal law.
If you or a family member has suffered abuse or excessive force from law enforcement officers because of your gender identity or who you love, you have the right to seek justice and compensation. The experienced Philadelphia police misconduct attorneys at The Zeiger Firm have a successful track record of representing victims of police brutality in state and federal courts. Our legal team will listen to you, investigate your claims, and work tirelessly to protect your rights. Call us today or contact us online for a confidential consultation with our LGBT police brutality lawyer.
Police Brutality: An Ongoing and Pervasive Problem for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
Instances of police violence and abuse targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community are far too common. There is a long history in the United States of harassment, violence, and other policing practices that occur at higher frequencies against gay, trans, and other members of the LGBTQ community. According to The Center for Public Integrity, 300,000 crimes were committed against people because of their sexual orientation within a recent five-year period. According to the federal National Crime Victimization Survey, 58 percent of transgender people who responded reported having experienced mistreatment by the police. More than half of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable calling the police for assistance.
In one recent example covered by various news outlets, an 18-year-old trans woman was arrested at a Philadelphia march during Pride Month for attempting to burn a Blue Lives Matter flag. She was documented under her dead name and sent to a men’s jail while she waited for arraignment on felony charges.
Insider conducted an exposé on police brutality and the LGBTQIA community. The publication identified at least 20 homicides over the past five years in which transgender people were killed while working as sex workers and 17 other cases where victims were homeless. Police misgendered or misnamed nearly two-thirds of the transgender homicide victims identified by Insider.
These marginalized groups often do not feel comfortable contacting law enforcement agencies or others for assistance. According to a recent U.S. Transgender Survey, Black transgender women are more likely to experience homelessness than other groups. LTBTQ youth have double the risk of becoming homeless, compared to their straight peers.
In addition to not feeling comfortable reaching out to law enforcement agencies for help, many transgender people report mistreatment by police. The U.S. Transgender Survey and other studies using its research revealed:
- 61% of Black people who responded to the survey reported experiencing verbal assault, physical assault, sexual abuse, and other forms of mistreatment.
- 33% of Black transgender women who reported having an encounter with police said a law enforcement officer assumed they were sex workers.
- 22% of Black respondents who had been arrested believed they were targeted for being transgender.
- 6% of respondents who had encounters with police in the past year reported being assaulted.
- Many transgender sex workers reported performing forced sex acts to avoid arrest.
Insider also identified several transgender people who died while in police custody, including Roxsana Hernandez, who was brutally beaten before her death; Sean Hake, who was killed by police in Pennsylvania after his mother called for a mental health emergency; and Kiwi Herring, who was also gunned down by police. None of the officers were criminally charged for their involvement in the deaths.
The consequences of police misconduct for members of the LGBTQIA+ community are significant. In addition to the immediate physical harm people suffer due to this abuse, police brutality against LGBT individuals causes severe psychological scars that may include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Due to systemic biases and hostile attitudes, the disproportionate targeting of the LGBTQIA+ community by the police has led to an increased distrust of law enforcement. Tackling these issues individually and systematically is necessary to improve the relationship between the community and the police force that is supposed to protect them.
Legal Protections and Challenges for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
While progress has been made in recent years, legal recourse for LGBTQIA+ individuals to address police brutality remains limited. Since the infamous Stonewall Uprising, significant change has not occurred when it comes to police violence against the LGBTQ community. No federal laws expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in interactions with law enforcement. However, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and related civil rights statutes may provide some protections to LGBTQIA+ individuals subject to police mistreatment.
At the state level, 23 states (along with D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and many municipalities have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations, according to the Movement Advancement Project. However, these laws often do not expressly cover police misconduct. Furthermore, 19 states and four territories have no laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Pennsylvania’s nondiscrimination law does not explicitly enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission interprets the state’s existing protections against sex discrimination to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Even in locations with anti-discrimination laws, LGBTQ people who suffer police brutality face challenges in seeking legal recourse. There is often reluctance on the part of the authorities to pursue misconduct complaints against police officers. Victims may also fear coming forward due to the possibility of retaliation.
While the legal landscape is improving for LGBTQ people, gaps remain in protections against discriminatory police practices. Advocacy and reform efforts must continue at all levels to enact clear and enforceable laws prohibiting police brutality targeting LGBTQ communities. With compassionate legal counsel, victims can seek justice and accountability.
The Role of a Criminal Defense Law Firm in Protecting the Rights of LGBTQIA People
When seeking support in your cause for justice, a criminal defense law firm dedicated to upholding civil rights can be a powerful ally. At The Zeiger Firm, we can help to protect your rights by:
- Providing aggressive legal representation to LGBTQIA+ clients who have experienced police violence and misconduct – Skilled defense lawyers can thoroughly investigate incidents of police brutality, build strong cases, and zealously represent clients’ interests in criminal and civil proceedings.
- Filing civil rights lawsuits on behalf of members of the LGBTQ community against police departments and individual officers – These suits can secure compensation for victims and promote institutional changes through court-enforced reform.
- Assisting LGBTQIA+ victims in filing official complaints of police misconduct with oversight bodies – These complaints create a formal record of police abuse and help to hold law enforcement accountable.
Hiring a criminal defense law firm like The Zeiger Firm sends a strong message that the LGBTQIA+ community has powerful allies who will hold police accountable for misconduct.
Providing Compassionate Legal Representation to LGBTQIA+ Victims of Police Brutality
LGBTQIA+ victims of police brutality need and deserve compassionate legal advocates who respect their experiences and represent their best interests. Our legal team creates a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable sharing details of their traumatic encounters with the police. Our LGBT and police brutality lawyer will provide you with the compassionate legal representation you deserve by:
- Respecting your privacy regarding your gender identity and sexual orientation, only disclosing information necessary for the case with explicit permission
- Tailoring legal strategies and counseling to your unique needs and concerns as an LGBTQIA+ individual
- Thoroughly explaining legal processes, setting reasonable expectations, and preparing you for potential challenges like invasive questioning and victim-blaming attitudes
- Connecting you to LGBTQIA+ support services, counseling, and community resources as desired
- Pursuing financial compensation sufficient to cover damages like medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress due to the police brutality and mistreatment you suffered
- Fighting for your rights at trial, if necessary, to help you pursue the justice you deserve
If you are an LGBTQIA+ victim of police brutality, you need practical, dedicated legal representation. At The Zeiger Firm, we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help LGBTQIA+ victims pursue accountability from law enforcement and reclaim their power. Our compassionate legal team understands your challenges, and we are committed to standing up for your rights. If you have faced police brutality based on your gender identity or sexual orientation, contact us today to discuss your legal options in confidence with our Philadelphia LGBTQIA+ police brutality attorney.