Showing posts with label Homosexuals Jailed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homosexuals Jailed. Show all posts

August 13, 2018

The First Minor Prosecuted by Russia Under The Gay Propaganda Law

 Maxim Neverov, 16

 A schoolboy has become the first minor to be prosecuted under Russia’s strict “gay propaganda” laws.
Maxim Neverov, a 16-year-old from the city of Biysk, was reportedly fined £50,000 rubles (£580) by a court, according to campaign group the Russian LGBT Network.
The organization said a police report filed in July claimed the teenager had posted several images of “partly nude” men on the social network VKontakte.
It added the images had been determined to have “the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations”, according to an “expert opinion”.
The Russian LGBT Network, which also provided a lawyer to represent Maxim, said authorities may have pursued charges following the teenager’s involvement in an event called “Gays or Putin”.
He and other organisers reportedly submitted 12 applications to hold events around Biysk, all of which were rejected by the city.
“Maxim Neverov points to the absurdity of the fact that the proceedings for propaganda among minors were initiated against a minor, but he expected such a decision,” the network said in a statement.
“Maxim Neverov is 16 years old; he is a schoolchild.”
The teenager’s lawyer, Artem Lapov, said the decision by the court violated his client’s right to freedom of expression.
He said he intended to appeal the decision, claiming Maxim’s friends and supporters were barred from attending the hearing, while the recording of proceedings were also forbidden.
Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” rules were agreed by the State Duma in 2013 and later signed into law by president Vladimir Putin.
The stated aim of the laws is to “protect” minors from being exposed to content that presents homosexuality as being a norm in society.
Moscow claims the rules uphold “traditional family values” by “preventing children from forming non-traditional sexual predispositions”.
The laws have received widespread criticism from campaign groups and human rights organisations.
Kyle Knight, of Human Rights Watch, said the law was a "flimsy excuse to discriminate against LGBT people".
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the legislation was discriminatory and restricted the free speech of Russian citizens.

October 3, 2017

There Goes Egypt Again Putting Gay Men on Trial For Being Gay

A rainbow flag was raised at a Cairo concert....17 men accused of debauchery (gay is not illegal even though it is so. Confusing? it has to be when a government knows is doing something wrong yet it does not want to make plainly clear. They instead use code words like debauchery, which could mean anything from having sex to rainsing a rainbow flag on a concert.

The trial of seventeen men accused of being homosexuals has begun in Cairo. The case is part of a wider crackdown on homosexuality in the conservative, Muslim country - where being gay is not expressly outlawed. 
The prosecution at the session held in the Azbakia Misdemeanour Court in Cairo on Sunday said the 17 had been arrested while engaging in homosexuality inside an apartment.
They have been accused of promoting homosexuality and inciting debauchery. All denied the charges.
The court adjourned until October 29, when it is expected to deliver a verdict.
While homosexuality is not expressly banned in Egypt, there is discrimination, and gay men are often arrested and charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy.
Security forces rounded up at least eleven people after a concert by Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila in Cairo last week where some young concertgoers waved rainbow flags. Police reportedly used images shared on social media to identify the people later arrested. 
Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, called for the men to be released.
"Whether they were waving a rainbow flag, chatting on a dating app, or minding their own business in the streets, all these debauchery arrest victims should be immediately released," she said.
Forensic inspections
At the weekend, Amnesty International reported that the men on trial would be be subject to intimate examinations by the Forensic Medical Authority to determine whether they had had homosexual sex.
Amnesty said the examinations violated the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law, but a judicial source said they would be carried out by "a forensic doctor who swore to respect his profession and its ethics."
"The fact that Egypt's Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's North Africa campaigns director, said. "These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial."
However, Egypt's Muslim religious establishment has expressed its support. A preacher at the Al Azhar seat of Sunni Muslim learning said it "will stand against calls for sexual perversion the same way it has stood against extremist groups."
(Reuters, dpa, AFP, adamfoxie)

April 7, 2017

LGBT Youth More Likely to be Arrested and Jailed

A disproportionate number of sexual minority youth in the U.S. are criminalized and subjected to abusive treatment in correctional facilities, a new study focusing on youth in detention found.

Conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, the study defines sexual minorities as those who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual, as well as those who identify as straight but have had some attraction to the same sex.

The study reported on three key findings: 60 percent of all incarcerated girls are sexual minorities; sexual minority youth are two to three times more likely to be held in custody for more than a year compared to heterosexual youth; and gay and bisexual boys are nearly 11 times more likely than straight boys to report having experienced sexual violence by peers.

"The findings support calls by policymakers and advocates for the need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) youth in state systems," Dr. Bianca D.M. Wilson said in a statement released by the Williams Institute.

The study’s findings were based on a 2012 survey that anonymously questioned a nationally representative sample of youth at juvenile correctional facilities.

January 27, 2017

Two Gay Men Jailed in Africa Nation Without Anti Sodomy or Gay Laws

Arthur, Malika, David and Michel 
Two gay men were jailed in a coastal city in the Ivory Coast even though there’s no law banning same-sex relationships in the country.
The men, identified by the Guardian as Yann and Abdoul, are gay but deny romantic involvement with one another. They believe they were charged with public indecency, but prosecutors have refused to confirm the charge.
Yann and Abdoul served three months in prison, after a trial without lawyers where they declined appeal because they thought the appeal process could take longer than the prison sentence.
“We were convicted in an unjust manner. If there is no law that that condemns it, I don’t understand how we could have been convicted,” Yann said.
News of the men’s conviction was slow to reach the country’s largest city of Abidjan, where many of the country’s LGBT activists reside. The first Ivorian newspaper to cover the story did so after the conviction was already reached and the men had decided not to appeal.
After being released from an overcrowded prison, they have decided to go to Abidjan, a city of relative safety for LGBT people in West Africa.
Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch is still asking why the men were convicted. “The government needs to come clean and offer an explanation to these two young men who have spent three months in jail for no apparent reason.”

November 15, 2016

Chelsea Manning Asks The President to Commute Her Sentence

U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, has asked the Obama administration to commute her remaining sentence to the time she has already served, The New York Times reported on Sunday.  

Manning made the request in a Nov. 10 petition to President Obama, a copy of which the Times obtained from Manning's attorney. She attempted suicide on Oct. 4 at the start of her stay in solitary confinement, where she was sent for also attempting to take her own life in July. 
In the statement, Manning assumed responsibility for her actions, saying they were wrong, but said her life was in turmoil at the time of the leaks. She was confronting gender dysphoria at the time while deployed to Iraq, the Times said. 
Manning also wrote of her treatment in prison and her multiple suicide attempts, saying: "I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction."
"The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members," the statement said. 
Manning's petition was accompanied by letters of support from Daniel Ellsberg, best known for releasing the classified Vietnam War history known as the Pentagon Papers, Morris Davis, a former military commissions chief prosecutor, and Glenn Greenwald, a legal commentator and journalist who has been a prominent supporter, the Times said. 
Manning, a transgender Army private who was born male and revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman, is being held at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. 
She has been a focus of a worldwide debate on government secrecy since she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

October 20, 2016

UK: Convictions of Gays and Sex Will be Abolished

Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences are to receive posthumous pardons, the government has announced.
It will mean formal pardons for those convicted over consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said the move was "hugely important".
It honours a government commitment made after World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013.
Under the move - dubbed "Turing law" - deceased people who were convicted of sexual acts that are no longer deemed criminal will receive an automatic pardon. 
Anyone living who has been convicted of such offenses can already apply through the Home Office to have their names cleared through a "disregard process", which can remove any mention of an offence from criminal record checks.
                             Turing Relatives
Relatives of Alan Turing present a petition to No 10 calling for pardons for men convicted under historic indecency laws

'Hugely important'

However, those still alive will also receive a new, automatic statutory pardon - once their offences have been successfully deleted through the disregard process.
Mr Gyimah said it was "hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today".
The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised private homosexual acts between men aged over 21 in England and Wales, in 1967.
The law was not changed in Scotland until 1980, or in Northern Ireland until 1982.

Image copyright
Calls for wider pardons strengthened after Turing was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.
The Bletchley Park code-breaker was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency with a 19-year-old man.
He was later chemically castrated and died in 1954 after poisoning himself with cyanide.
His pardon, nearly 60 years later, followed a Private Member's Bill introduced by Lord Sharkey.
The Lib Dem peer said the latest government announcement was "a momentous day for thousands of families up and down the UK". 
He said: "It is a wonderful thing that we have been able to build on the pardon granted to Alan Turing during the coalition."

'Unnecessary' distress

However, the government has said it will not be supporting a separate Private Member's Bill on the subject - introduced by SNP MP John Nicolson - which is set to be debated on Friday.
Mr Nicolson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, has proposed a blanket pardon for those still living, without the need to go through the disregard process.
Mr Gyimah said such a move - without detailed investigations by the Home Office - could see people guilty of offences claiming pardons for acts that are still illegal.
"This would cause an extraordinary and unnecessary amount of distress to victims," he added.
Paul Twocock, from the charity Stonewall, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, welcomed the announcement but said it supported Mr Nicolson's Private Member's Bill.
Mr Twocock said the bill "explicitly" excluded pardoning anyone convicted of offences that would still be illegal today, including non-consensual sex and sex with someone under 16.

October 3, 2016

Egypt The Great Jailer of Gay Men in the Middle East

Just after it became known in June that the attacker of Orlando's Pulse nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Egypt's foreign ministry immediately moved to condemn the attack on a U.S. gay bar.

"Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery," the ministry said.

Yet the statement didn't acknowledge that Pulse was a gay club, and that many of the victims were members of the LGBTQ community.

Three days later, a court in Cairo sentenced two 18-year-olds to three years in prison on charges of "debauchery": The young men were apprehended through government surveillance of social media dating apps for gay men, according to court records.

It's no surprise to gay Egyptians, say community leaders. In fact, they say Egypt has become one of the world's biggest jailers of gay men, with as many as 500 behind bars on "morals" charges — and the crackdown is escalating.

"Most of the gay people in Egypt are even not out to their families — they are living in fear, not living their lives," said Yousef Rizik, who at 18 is one of Egypt's youngest gay leaders and among the few willing to speak openly about the wave of repression against the community.

"If you have money and you are just being secretly gay and not an activist, then you are fine but if you are poor with no connections and openly gay, then you are definitely in prison," he added.

Activists say the current wave of arrests started in October 2015, as Egyptian security services extended their crackdown from Islamist groups to civil society organizations.

The situation is being echoed in a number of countries in the region, they add.

"Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait have all rushed to condemn the crime in Orlando labeling it terrorism while insisting Islam has nothing to do with it," said a spokesman for Mesahat, an LGBT service organization operating in Egypt and Sudan.

"These same governments keep arresting and torturing gay people and are putting them in jail. Meanwhile they are sponsoring a religious discourse that feeds homophobia."

A new phenomenon

The Quran mentions homosexuality only once, in a retelling of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But gay people in the region say widespread condemnation of homosexuality came about only in the 1980s, when the rise of the global LGBT rights movement coincided with the expansion of ultraconservative Wahhabism sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Activities and relationships that were considered normal 30 years ago are now described as haram, an Islamic term to describe religiously prohibited behavior like eating pork or consuming alcohol. Homosexuality is now frequently condemned as a "Western" vice and a threat to Arab and Islamic culture.

"Wahhabi attitudes spread to Egypt and took over a more enlightened, liberated Islam," said Ahmed Hafez, an Egyptian analyst with the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT advocacy group.

"Now the police in Egypt are targeting gay people to show the public that they are on the side of morality and are doing a good job in fighting debauchery, as a distraction to hide their failures in the crackdown on terrorism or drug trafficking," he added.

In Iraq and Syria, the shadow of ISIS adds to the danger

"Day after day, we read about how the Islamic State, militias and extremists handle the LGBT community in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco," said Khalid Abdel-Hadi, 27, publisher of My Kali, the only LGBT magazine in the Middle East.

"[We often see] videos of LGBT individuals being thrown from tall buildings, head first, and then stoned by bystanders." In mid-August, ISIS released a video of a man accused of "homosexual acts" and "corruption of thought" being pushed off the roof of a tall building.

In Jordan, too, local rights groups say ISIS has killed people for being gay. The country has no formal groups responsible for protecting LGBT rights.

"LGBT people still often cannot report or seek redress for discrimination or criminal acts against them, given the social stigma," said Adam Coogle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Amman.

But an Amman restaurateur who works on HIV awareness among Syrian refugees in Jordan's Zatari Camp said "it's not the right time for advancing gay rights here." He asked that his name be withheld for safety reasons.

"The Ministry of Social Development turned down our request to register a LGBT social service organization last year, but after Orlando, I'm more concerned about a lone wolf attack by Daesh against the few places where we can openly socialize," he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Coogle says the situation for LGBT people in Jordan is still better than in other Middle East countries.
Meanwhile in countries like Egypt and the Gulf states, safe spaces are limited to discreet hotel bars catering mostly to foreigners, and small gatherings in wealthy private homes.

Online entrapment by the authorities is also a pervasive worry in Egypt, Syria and Palestine.

The exception that proves the rule

Despite its political instability, Beirut, Lebanon, may be the one Arab capital where LGBT people are increasingly comfortable and safe.

"We even have a 'straight-friendly' gay bar in Beirut," joked 32-year-old Georges Azzii, co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese nonprofit organization advocating for the LGBT community. "But it was empty for the first few days after Orlando."

Lebanon does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, but article 534 of Lebanon's penal code punishes "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with up to one year in prison.

The law does not specify what might constitute "contrary to the order of nature," leaving a large margin of interpretation to individual judges. The provision has been used mainly to prosecute people suspected of homosexuality.

Azzi says four court rulings over the past few years have restricted the use of these laws against Lebanese gays, although the police and security forces still punish those perceived to be gay or transgender.

"Even with the advancements in the law and increasingly supportive media," he says, "people in the community are now on edge."

This story was reported from Cairo, Egypt.

This article, by Jacob Wirtschafter, originally appeared at GlobalPost.

September 24, 2016

Manning Attempted Suicide:The Solution is Solitary Confinement

In this the US Army and The Russian, Iran, Egyptians Armies are the same: Try to kill your self because of your conditions and situation and they will make it worse. They are saying, make sure next time you succeed even though you would have if not for us. You see we want you alive and suffering and if you try to make it less suffering we will find a way to make it worse than what it was.

What they have done to this very young private, between the US Army and Wikileaks Assange is inhumane and simply wrong particularly coming from an institution that knows better. As for Assange we already know he is a sociopath but he has even offered to surrender if the US let this mentally defective man out. May be Assange doesn’t mean it but if be he does, we will never find out. Assange 1000 times more valuable than Manning would be a trophy for the US but this will not become a fact.

Coming back to the abuse this young private has gone through in our army jail is inexcusable. If anyone had any doubts about how he is been treated this last decision to put someone in permanent solitary, someone who is mentally not able to cope goes beyond any crime he has done. It would have been better to give him the death penalty than to make someone suffer a daily living in this condition.

Chelsea Manning should be in treatment by capable psychiatrists. Solitary is the last thing he needs. A shame! That is the reason when this government accuses others of inhuman treatment of political prisoners as well as criminal prisoners they point to cases like this in which the US is a hypocrite,    no better than the worse with the exception he is not being water boarded or beaten as far as we know and we don’t know because people are not aloud to visit him. Alright don’t let him out but get him the psychiatric help he needs. If he was in a civilian jail his lawyers would have already brought the case to an appeals court but being in a military jail you have no such luxury.

The Washington Post reports the following:

Prison officials have decided U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning should spend at least 7 days in solitary confinement after she attempted to take her own life earlier this year in the midst of serving a 35-year sentence for sharing classified materials with the website WikiLeaks, her attorney said Friday.
Members of an administrative disciplinary board in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas handed the soldier a 14-day stint in solitary with seven days suspended after finding Manning guilty of two counts during a hearing Thursday held in response to her recent suicide attempt, according to a statement circulated by her lawyer, Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I am feeling hurt. I am feeling lonely. I am embarrassed by the decision. I don’t know how to explain it,” the soldier said in the statement.
Manning, 28, was found unresponsive inside her prison cell on the morning of July 5 and taken to a nearby hospital before being returned to the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth. She later learned that she was being investigated over the incident and faced indefinite solitary confinement as a result of her actions.
The three-member disciplinary board found the soldier guilty Thursday on charges of “conduct which threatens” and “prohibited property.” She was acquitted of a third charge related to the prison’s decision to deploy a specialized team to her cell upon learning of her suicide attempt.

August 26, 2016

Since 12% in Youth Facilities are LGBT Its Time to Start the Conversation


Stigma and discrimination, unsafe schools and discriminatory policing drive lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth into the justice system where they are overrepresented and subject to unfair treatment and abuse, says a new report.

Studies show that while LGBT youth make up about 7 to 9 percent of the population, they account for larger percentages of youth in juvenile justice facilities, according to the report by the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress.

In a survey by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 12 percent of youth in juvenile justice facilities self-identified as nonheterosexual.

Another survey by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency of seven facilities found that 20 percent of youth identified as LGBT or gender nonconforming. In the same survey, 40 percent of girls in juvenile justice facilities identified as LGBT, while 85 percent of nongender-conforming youth were youth of color.

“This report confirms once and for all what many of us have known for some time: LGBTQ young people are grossly overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, and it’s no coincidence. We live in a society where discrimination and stigma too often lead to criminalization and mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), in a news release.

The report highlights research on the experiences of LGBT youth to create a portrait of what factors help push them into the justice system, what happens once they are there and recommendations for change.

The hope is that a comprehensive round of the research can encourage a conversation about solutions that can make a difference for LGBT youth. The report’s recommendations include reducing homelessness for LGBT youth, reforming policing strategies and improving support for LGBT youth when they are released from facilities.

Naomi Goldberg, MAP policy and research director, said the field has taken an interest in LGBT youth once they are in custody, as part of a broader conversation about conditions of confinement. But conversations about how LGBT youth end up in the system also are beginning, especially at the local level.

“I think there are places where city officials and advocates are recognizing that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented and are particularly vulnerable, but it doesn’t feel like a conversation that is happening systemwide the way conditions of confinement conversations are,” she said.

One opening for a broader conversation could come as cities consider how to improve policing policies, Goldberg said.

“My hope is that LGBT people will be a part of those conversations,” she said.

The new report is a companion to one the co-authors released earlier this year that looks at the experiences of all LGBT people in the justice system, including youth.

Youth experiences

The report traces some of the reasons LGBT youth are disproportionately likely to end up in the justice system.

For example, family stigma or mistreatment in the child welfare system can mean youth run away and stay on the streets, making it more likely they will encounter law enforcement. Similarly, students who are bullied in school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity may be more likely to miss class or drop out. They then could face charges such as truancy or otherwise come in contact with the justice system.

Once in the system, studies show LGBT youth are more likely to be held while awaiting adjudication, are vulnerable to sexual assault and abuse, and do not receive the services they need for a smooth re-entry into the community.

“Their experiences in these systems are a huge threat to their lives and life chances, and we are doing far too little to prepare them for a healthy and productive life after release,” said Shannon Wilber, youth project director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

June 20, 2016

Egypt Condemns Gay Attacks Yet it continues its Persecution and Crack Down of Gays

 2yrs ago in Egypt. Only crime of all those men is to be accused of being Gay
On June 15, three days after the attack on an Orlando gay nightclub by a gunman that killed 49 people and left 53 injured, Yousuf Rezk, 18, posted a picture on Facebook of a man raising a rainbow flag (a symbol of LGBT pride) with the Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop. Not surprisingly, the face of the man in the picture was hidden to protect his identity. The caption below the photograph read, “In solidarity with the LGBT community around the world, which still has to fight against hatred and discrimination." 
As a young member of Egypt’s LGBT community, Rezk has experienced prejudice and stigma firsthand. He is one of a handful of Egyptian gays who have courageously come out to their families about their sexual orientation. And Rezk has gone even further. On his Facebook page, he defiantly describes himself as "an LGBT activist." Going public with his sexuality is an act of bravery in Egypt, a deeply conservative society where nearly 200 people have been arrested since late 2013 on the charge of “debauchery.” A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of Egyptians believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. 

Rezk’s decision to reveal his sexuality has, however, come with a high price. A year ago, his parents threw him out of the house, after failing to persuade him to change his orientation. He has since had to fend for himself, taking on odd jobs to pay his school fees.

“My family still has hope that this is just a passing phase and that one day, I’ll be miraculously cured,” he told Al-Monitor. 

His family's non-acceptance of his sexuality has not been the only challenge. Rezk has also been confronted in his church by the strong belief that “homosexuality is a disease that can be cured by some sort of reorientation therapy.” As a result, he has embraced atheism as an alternative to his original Coptic Orthodox faith. Since leaving home and abandoning the church, Rezk has felt “relieved” and “liberated” and can now wear his hair in long braids down to his waist “the way I’ve always wanted to,” he said. His non-traditional appearance gets him a lot of unwarranted attention on the streets of Cairo where he has had to put up with a lot of sexual harassment and catcalls. 

“I’m often groped and verbally attacked when I use public transport, including by the police, the very people who should be protecting me,” he lamented.

In the latest in a series of similar incidents, Rezk was thrown off the subway train by a crowd of commuters who sneered at his effeminate appearance and gestures.

“Man up!” they shouted scornfully, pushing him off the carriage as the train was moving out of the station. Luckily, he managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Rezk’s suffering is shared by other members of Egypt’s LGBT community who live in constant fear as targets of a brutal crackdown on them since the military takeover of the country in July 2013. While homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Egypt, scores of people have been handed down "shockingly long" prison sentences on charges of “incitement to, facilitation of or habitual debauchery,” according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

On April 24, 11 men were sentenced to jail terms ranging between three and 12 years for the “crime” of habitual debauchery and “abuse of a communications medium” (i.e., the internet). They were arrested in a flat in the Cairo suburb of Agouza in September 2015 and were allegedly part of a network that offered sexual services for money, acquiring clients through social media, according to the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper. In a statement published on its official website, the EIPR criticized the verdicts as “a continuation of the orchestrated vice police campaign against gay and transgender people.” In November 2014, a Cairo misdemeanor court sentenced eight men to three years in prison on the charge of “violating public decency” after they appeared in a YouTube video showing what seemed to be “a gay wedding ceremony.”

In January, TV reporter Mona Iraqi was acquitted of the charge of defaming 26 men who were arrested in a police raid on a public bathhouse in central Cairo in December 2014 for allegedly “organizing or taking part in same sex orgies.” Nearly a month after their arrests, all 26 defendants were cleared of the charges and released. Their release, however, came too little, too late. They had already been subjected to degrading anal tests to determine their sexuality. Moreover, Iraqi had taken pictures with her cellphone of the half-naked men being pulled out of the bathhouse by police, which she later posted on her Facebook page. The traumatic ordeal prompted one of the men to set himself on fire shortly after his release. Despite the outrage sparked by the controversial case, a six-month jail sentence and 10,000 Egyptian pound ($1,125) fine handed down to Iraqi in November 2015 for ‘‘publishing false news” was reversed earlier this year by a Cairo appeals court, dashing the hopes of rights advocates for an end to the crackdown on Egypt’s LGBT community anytime soon. 

The recent prosecutions of members of the LGBT community have prompted gay dating sites such as Grindr to issue warnings to their Egyptian users that “police may be posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you.” 

Indeed, this method of hunting down gays and others from the LGBT community has been used by the police in Egypt since the days of ousted authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak. Police raids on gay hangouts and private gay parties during the administration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are reminiscent of the much-publicized 2001 “Queen Boat case” when 52 men were rounded up in a raid on a floating disco on the River Nile and were charged with “performing immoral acts, the use of perverted sexual activities and contempt of religion.” The men were reportedly subjected to beatings and other abuse including invasive examinations to determine whether they had engaged in anal intercourse. 

Sadly, little has changed for Egypt’s LGBT community since the days of Mubarak, despite the high hopes of the activists who had called for “Freedom and Social Justice” during the 2011 uprising that forced the autocratic ruler to step down. Ali (known to his friends as Mariam), 25, dreams of undergoing a sex-change operation because “I believe that deep inside I’m a woman.” He told Al-Monitor, “The situation for us is worse today as there is a lot more fear.” Constantly harassed on the streets and unable to find a job, “she” has been left with no option but to sell sex for a living. Mariam has also been arrested several times and alleges she was raped with a bottle while in jail “to punish me for my perversion."

Ironically, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement condemning last week’s attack on the Orlando gay club. Offering condolences, the statement published on the Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page reiterated calls “to fight terrorism, which knows no boundaries or religion.” It also called for "international solidarity to counter the scourge worldwide." Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, also denounced the attack as a “heinous crime” that violates all tolerant teachings of Islam. 

To Rezk and Mariam, the words ring hollow.

“This is hypocrisy at its best. Where is the outcry when we suffer persecution and abuses on a daily basis?” Rezk said. 

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Mariam said, adding in a sarcastic tone, “Would someone please tell the authorities that charity begins at home.”

They both look forward to a day when they can leave Egypt to settle any place where they can be themselves and be accepted for who they really are.

April 18, 2016

Four Women Spend Lots of Years in Jail for Being Gay

Image result for ladies in jail


This will sound strange but it only gets stranger: A man in the Yukon who lives in a hut and has a team of 30 mush dogs got interested in the topic of female sex offenders.
Go figure.

The man, Darrell Otto, may trod the frozen tundra, but like everyone else, he's got Internet access, and somehow he stumbled upon an odd case: Four Texas lesbians convicted in their very early 20s of raping two young girls in a tequila-soaked orgy. By the time the man, Darrell Otto, was reading about them, they'd been in prison four or five years, but they had at least another decade to go. One of them, in fact, had 30 years to go.

That's quite a sentence.
Otto wanted someone to dig deeper and at last he found the National Center for Reason and Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to identifying false allegations of harm to children, which agreed to investigate. Here’s what they found.

The girls, 7 and 9, had been staying with their aunt, 20-year-old Elizabeth Ramirez, for a week. Two months later, they told their grandmother they'd been raped by Ramirez and her friends.
The girls changed their facts — sometimes they were threatened with a knife, other times a gun; sometimes separately, sometimes apart — but most damningly: they had told a strikingly similar story two years earlier. That time, it was about their mom. This was when their dad, Javier Limon, was in a bitter custody battle with her.

Javier Limon figured large in this case, too. Allegedly, he had been in love with Ramirez and outraged when she turned him down. He vowed vengeance. Slate reports that Ramirez had love letters from Limon.

She was not allowed to enter them in her defense.
Instead, the trial was about four gay women, in a conservative Texas town, at the tail end of the "Satanic Panic." That's when Americans across the country became convinced that day care workers were dismembering babies, drinking blood and ritually raping preschoolers. It sounds outrageous now, but people went to prison, sometimes for decades, for ostensibly making their toddler students dig up bodies in the graveyard, or flying them down to Mexico to be raped by soldiers -- and back by circle time. (See the case of Frances and Dan Keller.)

In the end, the women's fate was sealed when a doctor testified that the lines she saw on one of the girl's hymens were irrefutable proof of rape. The San Antonio Four entered prison reviled as child molesters — and lesbians.

"Many of these cases were fueled by homophobia," says Debbie Nathan, author of "Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt." Nathan is on the board of the NCRJ, the group that took on this case. Back then, she says, many people assumed that anyone gay was also a child predator.

Nathan urged one of her proteges, Deborah Esquenazi, to keep digging, even as she convinced the Texas Innocence Project to do the same. As a gay woman herself, just coming out, Esquenazi went to meet the women in prison and was shocked to find, "They were no longer angry. They just wanted to tell their story.”

So she brought along a video camera, and bore witness over the next few years to an extraordinary turn of events.

First, the doctor who had insisted the physical evidence "proved" rape admitted she'd been wrong. It turns out that hymen lines are a normal variation.
Second, Texas passed a bill that allows people to appeal if their convictions were based on "junk science."
Finally: One of the victims, now 20-something, recanted her testimony. She said she’d felt guilty for ages.

After more than a decade in prison, the women were released ... but not exonerated. They're in legal limbo, working factory jobs as they await what happens next.
Which is the red carpet.

Esquenazi's documentary, "Southwest of Salem," is premiering at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. The San Antonio Four will be there. It should all be pretty sweet.
But not as sweet as justice

February 20, 2016

New Law in Russia if Approved Coming Out Gay will cost 15 Days in Jail


Moscow: Russia's parliament on Friday debated a controversial homophobic bill to fine and jail people for up to 15 days for coming out in public as gay.
Lawmakers expressed support while rejecting the bill in its current wording as not legally valid.
The bill proposed by two Communist MPs calls for a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($65) for "public expression of non-traditional sexual relationships."
It calls for a harsher punishment of up 15 days in police cells for being openly gay in educational institutions or in those related to the arts and youth.
Gay and LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev holds a flare as he rides a quad-bike during an unauthorized gay rights activists rally in central Moscow in a file photo. AFP
Gay and LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev holds a flare as he rides a quad-bike during an unauthorized gay rights activists rally in central Moscow in a file photo. AFP
The authors of the bill said in an accompanying note it was necessary because a law banning "propaganda" of gay relationships to minors signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013, and internationally condemned, was "not effective enough."
One of them, Communist MP Ivan Nikitchuk told parliament he had “received hundreds of messages of support for the bill," waving a folder of letters and telegrams.

He condemned the "aggressive propaganda of Western culture and non-traditional values," and called homosexuality "a huge threat for society, a deadly threat."
The bill doesn't define what non-traditional sexual relationships are, but Nikitchuk told MPs they are "between adult men" while "traditional" relationships are between a man and a woman.
Nikitchuk, the 71-year-old deputy head of the parliament's natural resources committee, said last year the bill would only apply to gay men.
Lawmaker Viktor Shudegov of A Just Russia party spoke in support of the bill, adding he wanted a ban on gay people working in professions such as teaching.
"Let the West rot," he said in angry rhetoric.
"They will destroy themselves from within and we will survive, we must survive, so I back this bill."
The MPs debated the bill despite it's being already rejected by the committee on constitutional law because it is not possible to introduce punishments for actions not legally defined as an offence.
As homosexuality is not illegal in Russia this made it technically impossible to pass the bill and it was rejected unanimously.
But that may not be the end of it.
A representative of the constitutional law committee, Rustam Ishmukhametov of ruling United Russia party voiced support for the bill and the possibiity of a new version.
"As a lawmaker I also share this concern. I agree that possibly it would be worth further discussion of this bill, maybe to submit it in a reworked version," he said in parliament, quoted by TASS state news agency.

May 14, 2015

Transgender Sexually Assaulted and Beaten Thanks to ‘Texas Corrections’

'Suck Dick, Fight or Quit Doing Gay Shit': The Texas Prison Rape Problem
 It didn’t take long after Passion Star was sent to prison for her to be sexually assaulted for the first time. And it wasn’t long before she filed her first complaint against her first attacker. And she realized “almost immediately,” she says, that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was not going to help her.

In a letter to Jezebel and in a lengthy story published Tuesday in the New York Times, Passion Star, a transgender woman who’s been incarcerated in Texas for the past 12 years, detailed what she says has been more than a decade of rape and beatings by gang members at seven different prison units in Texas, as well as almost complete indifference by the correctional officers tasked with watching over her.
“Texas says it has good policies” when it comes to trans inmates, Star told Jezebel in her recent letter. “But those policies aren’t followed or respected by people in positions of power.”
In a series of complaints filed with the TDCJ and in court documents, Star laid out 12 years of sexual assault allegations, as well as the responses from correctional officers and administrative officials at the prisons where she was incarcerated. One CO called her a “faggot” and suggested she liked the “attention” she was getting, Star alleges. A CO at a different unit was far less gallant: “You can’t rape someone who’s gay,” he told her, according to Star. One lieutenant, she says, told her to stop filing complaints that triggered Offender Protection Investigations (OPIs). Instead, he suggested, “Suck dick, fight or quit doing gay shit and you’ll be okay, but quit running me with OPIs.”
In October, the national LGBT rights organization Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on Star’s behalf,alleging that TDCJ officials had repeatedly failed to protect her from sexual abuse. After over a decade of begging to put on safekeeping—a version of protective custody that doesn’t put an inmate in isolation—Star’s request was finally granted at the end of March. That was soon after New York Times reporter Deborah Sontag first started asking to interview her, and Lambda filed an emergency motion stating that her life was in “imminent danger” if she wasn’t moved.
Star has been transferred seven times during her incarceration so far. Her seventh home was the Clements Unit near Amarillo. She arrived there in November 2014, and by February she was getting so many threats that she feared that she would be killed at any time. By that time, Star had filed an endless series of complaints—all of them largely ignored, she says—and nearly lost her eye in a brutal 2013 razor attack.
Jael Humphrey, Star’s attorney at Lambda Legal, says Star had been labeled a “snitch” for speaking up about the threats being made against her. By February, Humphrey says, “she really felt she couldn’t stand it anymore.” They spoke on the phone around Feb. 20, and Humphrey says she was alarmed by what Star told her.
“When she spoke to me—she’s not one to overstate her assessment of situation,” Humphrey says. “She’s not alarmist at all. But when I asked her to measure the danger, she said she felt it was a certainty that she was not going to be able to make it through the weekend without being forced to do something sexually that she didn’t want to do, or hurt or killed if she resisted.”
Texas says it has a zero tolerance policy against not just prison rape, but inmate sexual conduct of any kind. However, like a few other Republican-run states, state officials also believe they don’t have to comply with all the requirements of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, passed in 2003 and just beginning to be enforced this year.
Last year, in a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, former Gov. Rick Perry called PREA “counterproductive” and “unnecessarily cumbersome,” and suggested its standards would endanger correctional officers, saying it would require them to remove cameras from units and suggested “obstruct[ing] lines of sight” to be in compliance. He also said that since roughly 40 percent of the TDCJ officers are women, and PREA is concerned with limiting “cross-gender” supervision of inmates in places like the bathroom and shower areas, the standards would require the department to “deny female officers job assignments and promotion opportunities.”
It’s unclear how current Gov. Greg Abbott will choose to approach PREA; his office hasn’t said much about it (and didn’t respond to an interview request from Jezebel). But last month, TDCJ’s press officer, Robert Hurst, told Jezebel that it plans to be “as compliant as possible with PREA standards without jeopardizing the safety and security of our institutions,” pointing out that 24 penal facilities in the state have been already been examined by federal PREA auditors, and 21 have passed, while the other three are “pending completion” of the audit process. At the same time, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is expected to re-introduce an amendment to PREA soon, one that would mean states like his never have to comply with the law and would face zero consequences for doing so.
Passion Star’s story is a unique example of just how drastically and repeatedly Texas’s home-grown standards have failed.
“What’s going on in Texas is a crisis,” says Jesse Lerner-Kinglake. He’s the communications director at Just Detention International, a human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in prisons and jails. He told the Texas Observer at the time that Perry’s objection letter regarding PREA contained “so many basic errors,” adding, “It’s really kind of simple stuff that anyone who took a minute to look at the standards would know.” He said Perry’s objections on limiting cross-gender supervision issue, for example, are misleading in that the areas where women couldn’t be stationed are “so limited in scope, and he’s making it out to be a deal-breaker. It’s just a matter of basic dignity.”
“It is a very urgent crisis and we’re not going to stand by and let it continue to happen,” Kinglake says, of Texas’ prison rape epidemic. “We have the tool in PREA, and they’re not using it.”

Passion Star entered prison in December 2002 as Joshua Zollicoffer. Then 18, she identified at the time as a gay man; she and her boyfriend were convicted by a Coryell County jury of abducting a used-car dealer named William McCune in August 2002, taking off with him in the car during a test drive of a maroon Impala. 
Star told the Times that the kidnapping had come as a surprise to her: a little while into the test drive, McCune told her boyfriend it was time to turn the car around. The boyfriend, she says, refused. Star says she was confused, but went along with it:
‘Wow. What do you mean?’” she said. “And he’s like, ‘Be quiet.’ It was one of those things where keeping it real goes wrong. Where I could have been like, ‘Well, you need to stop,’ or gotten out, and I didn’t. We make bad decisions when we’re young.”
Star accepted a plea bargain, copping to aggravated kidnapping in exchange for a 20-year sentence. She is scheduled for release in 2022. (According to the Times, her ex-boyfriend was released on parole in 2013. Star became eligible for parole in 2012.)
Star also told the Times she soon came to realize she was a transgender woman, comparing herself elegantly to a penguin that waddles on land but takes flight in water: “I didn’t feel like I was in my element until, at all types of personal risk to myself, I became Passion.”
According to an affidavit Star wrote in the Lambda lawsuit, other inmates also realized she was a woman, placing her in immediate danger. Star writes that she was sexually assaulted at the Telford Unit, the first unit where she was incarcerated, when a gang member identified as M.M. noticed that she was “feminine” and forced her into what she calls, in scare quotes, a “relationship.”
“I thought he could protect me from other inmates in Telford who were sexually harassing me, but he forced me to perform sexual acts for him, ” Star writes in the affidavit. “When I tried to end the relationship, M.M. choked me, so I stayed in the ‘relationship’ with him.”
Star says in the affidavit that her treatment was part of a long pattern of gang members victimizing LGBT or “feminine”-seeming inmates:
There is a custom in TDCJ pursuant to which gay men and transgender women are targeted by other inmates, frequently inmates with power and influence in the unit, often gang members, and forced to perform sexual acts as a means of survival because otherwise we will be assaulted. Sometimes we are made to perform sexual acts for many members of the same gang. This is called “riding.” Because gay men and transgender women are not protected by TDCJ staff, we are often coerced unwillingly into unwanted sexual encounters to escape physical assault if we try to resist.
Star tells Jezebel she made her first complaints in 2003 at the Telford unit. “Nothing was done,” she says.
By then, she’d also learned about “safekeeping,” which is meant to protect vulnerable inmates without taking them out of general population. The other alternative is protective custody, which amounts to solitary confinement.
Star knew several people who had been placed on safekeeping, and she wanted to be there too, badly: She’d be safe from attacks without having to miss out on school and work. Instead, each time she asked for help, she says, she was either ignored and left to fend for herself, or else placed briefly in protective custody. Coming back from protective custody, she writes, put her into even greater danger: Inmates are widely believed to be put there after they “snitch.”
As a result of begging TCDJ staff to help me, I have found myself in more danger. Each time that I ask for help and am returned to general population, other incarcerated people suspect that I am a “snitch.” I have learned from my time in prison that the prison culture is one of retribution and violence against people who snitch. As a result of asking for help from TDCJ staff who have refused to take reasonable steps to protect me, I have been placed at greater risk of serious harm.
In 2006, Star writes, she was transferred to the Allred Unit near Iowa Park, Texas, where her cellmate raped her at knifepoint. When she told a guard about the rape, her cellmate threw a fan at her head, cutting it.
After that, she was transferred again to the Smith Unit, near Lamesa, Texas, where she thought it would be obvious that she needed to be in protective custody. Instead, she writes in the affidavit, she was sexually harassed and threatened with rape again, including an incident where she was forced to watch a man masturbate. She was transferred yet again, to the Coffield Unit, in a remote area of Anderson County, where, again, she was forced into a “relationship” with a man referred to in court documents as “T.K.,” who she says punched her in the jaw when she tried to end the relationship. He broke one of her teeth and punctured her lip.
By 2011, she was at the Hughes Unit near Gatesville, where things grew even worse: She says gang members in both the Bloods and the Crips demanded that she submit to them sexually in return for “protection.” In the complaint filed by Lamda, she alleges that one correctional officer, who she identifies as a Lieutenant Aragon, called her a “snitch” and a “faggot” in front of other inmates, while other officers pretended to grab her butt, which they referred to as the “grab-ass game.” (The complaint never uses full names; Star, as an inmate, would not have known any of the CO’s first names. The Texas Tribune’s database of Texas state employees lists only one person with the last name Aragon who works for the TDCJ, Monika M. Aragon, who is indeed a lieutenant.)
In her affidavit, Star also says that she met with the Unit Classification Committee, a group of prison administrators who make decisions about whom to place on safekeeping. She says she explained her long history of being sexually assaulted and that she felt she was still at risk. Her request to be placed on safekeeping was denied.
In response, Star filed a grievance, which was denied. (Throughout many of these complaints, Star refers to herself as gay, not trans; she says in the affidavit that she believed correctional officers and TCDJ administrators would understand “gay” better.) She appealed the denial, and was again denied. She returned to general population from a short stint in protective custody, and was almost immediately moved into a pod with a man referred to in court documents as JT, a Crip she said had been threatening and sexually harassing her from the moment she arrived on the unit.
Star says she begged for help again, going to the supervisor of her building and asking to be moved away from JT as quickly as possible. The supervisor, she says, replied that it was “not [his] problem.”
That day, leaving the dining hall, Star was attacked by JT and a group of other Crips. JT called her a “snitching faggot” and slashed her face repeatedly with a razor. One cut came perilously close to her right eye. She told the Times’s Sontag that she needed 36 stitches in her face. At that point, she asked to be placed on safekeeping again, and was denied, again, with a committee telling her there was not “sufficient evidence” that she was being attacked.
Star was soon moved to yet another unit, Robertson; it was there that a correctional officer suggested she “stop doing gay shit.” She filed piles of complaints, going further and further up the chain, even appealing to administrators in the state’s Safe Prisons Program to help her. Again and again, her requests were ignored or denied.
From July 25, 2014, to Aug. 8 or so, Star says, she was placed in a “transient” cell as some stopgap method of protection. In her affidavit, she describes this—and all the other times she was placed in isolation—as “a form of torture”:
I have little human contact; I cannot sleep; I think constantly about past traumatic experiences; and I suffer from psychological distress. I have felt deterred from filing complaints about sexual abuse because I do not want to be placed in isolation again. While in transient status, I was also afraid that at any moment I could be release back into the general population and killed.
She appeared again in front of the UCC and asked again to be put on safekeeping. She says that an assistant warden in charge of the UCC told her: “It’s a man’s prison. You can’t expect to walk around acting like that and not have problems.”
Robert Hurst, the public information officer for the TDCJ, told Jezebel in an email that the department has a “zero tolerance” policy towards sexual violence and “sexual encounters” of any kind:
While I cannot comment specifically on the lawsuit, TDCJ has a zero tolerance policy against sexual encounters of any kind within the system. The agency, in conjunction with several independent entities such as the Office of Inspector General, the Special Prosecution Unit, and the PREA ombudsman, has an extensive Safe Prisons program aimed at preventing, investigating, and prosecuting sexual assault and other acts of violence. This program is in operation at all TDCJ correctional facilities.
A 2007 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study found five Texas prisons—Allred Unit, Clemens Unit, Coffield Unit, Estelle Unit, and Mountain View Unit—to be among the 10 prisons in America with the highest incidence rates of inmate-reported sexual assault. Just Detention International, additionally, reports that 59 percent of transgender women in men’s prisons are sexually abused.
The TCDJ has officially disputed Star’s transgender status. In their response to Lambda’s lawsuit, they write, “Defendants deny that plaintiff is transgender, as no such medical diagnosis has been made.”
Jael Humphrey says Texas’s response is absurd.
“It’s ludicrous that the defendants would claim this as a defense in their lawsuit,” she tells Jezebel. “Ms. Star is a transgender woman, but her status as such is irrelevant to TDCJ’s obligation to protect her from the threat of sexual violence. TDCJ officials were clearly on notice of Ms. Star’s vulnerability to sexual abuse, and displayed deliberate indifference to this risk. In addition, Defendants were on notice that Ms. Star is a transgender woman in a man’s prison and consequently has increased vulnerability to sexual assault.”
Humphrey points out, too that, Texas has its own, very nice-sounding Safe Prisons Plan outlining how it will comply with some PREA standards. That document doesn’t require a “medical diagnosis” for someone to be deemed transgender, which the SPP defines simply as “a person whose gender identity, such as internal sense of feeling male or female, is different from the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
The few interactions that Star says she had with medical professionals about being trans were not ideal: in the complaint filed by Lambda, she alleges that one counselor insisted she was male:
In November 2014, Ms. Star met with psychologist Ledbetter at Clements, who asked her about her transgender identity. Ms. Ledbetter insisted that Ms. Star was a man and not a woman and tried to force Ms. Star to admit that she could not be a woman. Ms. Star was upset by her interaction with Ms. Ledbetter.
However, Humphrey says that this particular TDCJ line of defense didn’t seem to hold much water with the judge: “When Judge Gray Miller issued an opinion on Monday denying the defendants’ motion to transfer venue, we were relieved not just to win on this motion, but that the judge addressed Ms. Star respectfully using female pronouns throughout the opinion.”

Sexual abuse is a “massive problem” in Texas prisons, says Jesse Lerner-Kinglake, the communications director for Just Detention International. “JDI gets between 2,000 and 2,500 letters every year from survivors of sexual abuse in detention. I think close to 20 percent come from people who are locked up in Texas.”
The letters, some of which are featured on JDI’s website, are horrifying. This is from a man named Sidney:
I was sent to a Texas prison. The cell block where I was placed, was still new and not even finished. Our cell doors didn’t work, they just hung there. I was the youngest, prettiest one there, and the only sissy. Inmates were trying to get me out of my clothes, but I kept refusing. Well, three of them got mad and threw me into an empty cell. They beat me until I complied. I was held down and raped by all three. This went on for four days and nights. At that time, there was nobody to report it to. You rarely saw a guard and inmates ran the place.
Ten years later, it happened again. I was forced into a relationship to keep from being beaten. I was forced to have sex about three times a week. One day I refused, but he only got mad. Eventually, I got moved to another cell block across the hall. He was furious. One day, I went to shower late in the evening since I was at the doctor’s office when everybody else went to shower earlier that day. Then, he showed up and beat me up so bad that I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital, for stitches and x-rays.
When I got back, I was locked up and moved the next day. A couple of weeks later, the people like me got transferred to another prison a hundred miles away.
And this is from a man named Roderick, who, like Star, says he was targeted for being gay:
I was an openly gay, first-time offender convicted of non-violent drug charges – in other words, a target. After arriving at the facility, I was immediately pressured by gang members to sleep with someone in exchange for protection. At first I resisted these approaches, but it wasn’t long until I was raped. The perpetrator promised to keep me from being owned by the gangs if I would only have sex with him. Instead, he and his gang forced me to have sex with other gang members and also sold my services to other inmates.
I was being assaulted in the showers, stairwells, my cell, and other cells. After I made complaints to prison officials, they told me, “Go down there and fight like a man, or get a man.” Prison officials also threatened me for exposing their misconduct, by seeking help through the courts.
It’s not just anecdotal evidence, though, Lerner-Kinglake points out: “As part of the PREA, the was a massive research undertaking by the federal government into the problem of sexual abuse in detention. There have been three nationwide anonymous state surveys. They’ve shown consistently that Texas is among the worst. Again and again, it performs terribly.”
Many new standards and regulations are supposed to be implemented as a result of PREA. Overall, like Texas’s own program, it pledges “zero tolerance” for sexual assault. But it also drills down into specifics: limits on “cross-gender supervision”—including, for example, new rules that say male guards can’t perform body-cavity searches on female inmates; new protocols on how youthful offenders can be kept safe (not being placed on a unit where they have “sight, sound or physical contact” with adults); new protections for inmates who are disabled, who aren’t English proficient, or have a variety of other perceived vulnerabilities.
But PREA’s full implementation has been stalled for years, while states like Texas—and Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, and Utah—raise objections, usually by saying it’s “federal overreach” and their own systems work just fine. The feds’ response to this has been to threaten to cut those states’ federal funding for corrections; this chart shows how much each stands to lose.
TDCJ press officer Robert Hurst told Jezebel via email that the agency began the PREA auditing process in 2014, and that “24 units have been audited thus far, 21 of those have met all the standards, and 3 are pending completion of the audit process. We anticipate those units will also be in compliance.” There are 109 facilities total, which Hurst says will go through the PREA auditing process over a three-year period.
But then again, maybe they won’t. In September, Texas Senator John Cornyn proposed a PREA amendment—attached it to an unrelated bill, actually—that would eliminate those financial penalties, which are the only stick the feds have to make them comply. This coming Friday is the deadline for states to prove they’re finally complying with PREA, and Cornyn is widely expected to re-introduce the amendment to make it painless for the states—like Texas—who aren’t.

Texas doesn’t have to be like this. Indeed, not every penal facility in Texas is like this. In 2013, one of the largest jails in the state, Harris County, adopted a broad LGBT inmate protection policy under the guidance of Sheriff Adrian Garcia (now running for mayor of Houston).
“We don’t qualify inmates by gender solely based on what their genitals are,” says Alan Bernstein, a spokesperson for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, he says, the sheriff’s office has adopted “a matrix that takes into account several things, including, excuse the expression, their equipment, but also whether they’re undergoing a sex change and what their self-proclaimed identity is.”
When an inmate is booked in, Bernstein says, a correctional officer asks them, basically: “Do you have a condition, medical or otherwise, a vulnerability, or any piece of information you’d like to volunteer that would require us to house in a special unit?”
Jail personnel have also been trained on transgender and LGBT issues, Bernstein says, and several people have been trained as “specialists.” They wear a special badge so that inmates can quickly identify them and know they’re a safe person to whom they can report abuse.
The jail also made special provisions to deal with homophobia among correctional officers, he adds, including having homophobic COs undergo professional counseling with their peers. That counseling is then noted in their personnel file.
Bernstein notes that there are massive differences between jails and prisons (jails are for inmates who are doing short stints, usually pre-trial and pre-conviction, while prison inmates are locked up for much longer). But, he says, there may be things Texas prisons could learn from Harris County.
“They can come and watch how we implement our policies and see how they might apply the state prisons,” he says, before adding, quickly, “I’m not criticizing state prisons system’s performance on these issues.”
In the end, it took the pressure of the Lambda lawsuit and a New York Times reporter knocking on the door for TDCJ to move Passion Star onto safekeeping. On March 30, Lambda announced she was being moved onto safekeeping immediately. In a statement, Humphrey called it “a tremendous relief” for her client.
Star says that when she learned she was finally being placed on safekeeping after more than a decade of begging, she was “ecstatic,” she tells Jezebel in her letter. “Really, I felt relief and felt that just maybe I’d now be allowed the opportunity to survive long enough to make it home to my family.”
Safekeeping status does still mean that Star interacts with general population inmates. She’s cognizant of the potential dangers, and says it still beats solitary: “We don’t live in general population with all the gangs and gang violence. Also, it is better than solitary confinement because solitary is a form of torture and, at the end of the day, not an appropriate means to keep someone safe from harm. I feel safer on safekeeping. I am still able to go to school, which I have signed up for. And I am more secure. If an assailant were determined enough, he could still get to me. But for the most part, I am in a better living environment than I have been in the past.” 
There was also, though, a bitter, biting irony: Only a select few TCDJ units have safekeeping programs. Star was sent back to the Telford unit, the first place she’d been locked up, the first place she started begging Texas for help.
“In another way, it felt crazy coming back to Telford Unit, where I made my first requests for protection,” she writes. “I can’t help but think about the violence I could’ve possibly avoided had my complaints been heeded then.”
This story appeared on Jezebel and written by Anna Moran to read Passion Star actual hand written letter you can click here

Featured Posts

Alan Merrill "I Love Rock'N'Roll Dies of COVID-19

By Mark Savage BBC music reporter   BBC Image copyright Image caption The singer had a long and varied career in mus...