Target: New Orleans City Council
Goal: End the profiling of transgender persons as sex workers and the possession of condoms being used as grounds for police harassment.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and Louisiana. Today, eight years later, more than half of New Orleans’ 350,000 people are still living in or close to poverty. The severe poverty and lack of support from the state government has led many of New Orleans’ poor to turn to sex work for their basic necessities, like food, medicine and shelter.
Human Rights Watch reports that, due to local and state laws, transgender persons are consistently profiled as sex workers, searched, harassed, accused of prostitution and propositioned for sex by police officers in exchange for leniency. The state government’s 200 year old “crimes against nature” statute continues to create an environment where state discrimination towards the LGBT community is acceptable and common. On the local level, “loitering for prostitution” is a vague criminal offense in New Orleans that is used by police as a vehicle of discrimination and profiling especially towards transgender persons. The laws must be repealed so that the New Orleans Police Department cannot continue to harass their citizens and violate the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest.
New Orleans’ discriminatory police profiling is also very dangerous to public health. Human Rights Watch reports, “police use condoms as evidence of prostitution.” Though there are no accounts of possession of condoms being used in prosecution, the fear of harassment or arrest for prostitution has led many to engage in unprotected sex. Since sex workers are one of the most at-risk groups for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, there will be a severe increase in the spread of HIV and AIDs in New Orleans unless the Police Department immediately ends this practice.
Sign the following petition to tell the New Orleans City Council to repeal the “loitering for prostitution” law, direct the New Orleans Police Department to stop using condoms as grounds to suspect and arrest someone for sex work, and enforce the prohibition against transgender profiling, verbal abuse and sexual misconduct.
Dear New Orleans City Council,
Hurricane Katrina’s effects are still profound: with over half of New Orleans in or near poverty, sex work has become more common as people struggle to pay for food, medicine, and shelter. Yet, the current approach to this rise in sex work is discriminatory and harmful to public health.
Human Rights Watch reports that the vagueness of the law criminalizing “loitering for prostitution” has allowed police officers to consistently profile transgender persons. This law facilitates police officers’ violation of the human right to freedom from arbitrary arrest.
In addition, there are reports of police officers using possession of condoms as grounds for suspicion of prostitution. Profiling this way makes sex workers fearful of carrying condoms and more likely to engage in unprotected sex. This is a severe public health risk for New Orleans and Louisiana.
Therefore, I urge you to repeal the “loitering for prostitution” law, direct the New Orleans Police Department to stop using condoms as grounds to suspect and arrest someone for sex work, and enforce the prohibition of transgender profiling, verbal abuse and sexual misconduct.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons