Lambda Legal Urges New York Lawmakers to End Use of Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution
(New York, April 5, 2012)—With news last month that the New York state legislature has filed over 300 bills away to the Rules Committee preventing them from being voted on, Lambda Legal submitted a memorandum today urging New York legislators to reconsider and support the passage of bill S323/A1008 that, if enacted, would prevent police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution and prostitution-related offenses. Passing this bill is a critical step toward protecting the health of New Yorkers, including members of communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, including gay and bisexual men, transgender people, at-risk youth and sex workers.
"It makes no sense that the New York City Department of Public Health has distributed over 200 million free condoms as a matter of good public health practice, and then the NYPD and prosecutors try to use them as evidence of prostitution," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director. "When law enforcement sends a message not to carry condoms, it puts the health and safety of New Yorkers in jeopardy. Now it is the legislature’s responsibility to take action to protect the public."
"The government has wisely promoted the free distribution of millions of condoms throughout New York City for decades in the name of public health. It is unfair and misleading to encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of these programs and then turn around and use the condoms to try and build a criminal case against them," Gorenberg added.
Lambda Legal’s memorandum sent today reads, in part, "Using condoms as evidence of criminal conduct further exposes communities that have historically been both hard-hit by HIV and subjected to intense police scrutiny. The practice disproportionately affects transgender women, who experience such a high rate of false targeting by police as sex workers in New York City that it was the subject of a 2005 campaign by Amnesty International." The submission goes on to say, "The effect on New York’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (“LGBTQ”) youth, a group vastly overrepresented in homeless youth populations, is potentially devastating, as homeless LGBTQ youth face a heightened risk of sexual exploitation. Individuals who are already at risk of exploitation should not be further deprived of condoms that could protect their lives."
Read the entire memorandum online at http://lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/ltr_ny_20120405_condoms-as-ev...