Andrea was lead researcher and coauthor for Amnesty International’s 2005 report Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the United States.
Since Stonewall, significant progress has been made by the LGBT movement in the U.S. in confronting human rights abuses perpetrated by law enforcement. As the LGBT movement has grown in strength across the country, the LGBT community has become more capable of holding local police departments accountable for their treatment of LGBT people. Passage of anti-discrimination legislation at the local level in some jurisdictions has greatly facilitated this progress. Increasingly, police forces across the country provide some level of sensitivity training towards working with the LGBT community. Despite this progress, the findings of this report clearly indicate that the problem of police misconduct persists. AI has documented serious patterns of police misconduct and brutality aimed at LGBT people, including abuses that amount to torture and ill treatment.
Amnesty International’s findings strongly indicate that police abuse and the forms this takes are often specific to the different aspects of the victim’s identity, such as sexual orientation, race, gender or gender identity, age or economic status. Identities are complex, multi-layered, and intersectional, such that a person may be targeted for human rights violations based on a composite of identities that that person seems to represent. For example, a lesbian woman who is black may not only be a target of police abuse because of her sexual orientation but also because she is a woman of color. The targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for discriminatory enforcement of laws and their treatment in the hands of police needs to be understood within the larger context of identity-based discrimination, and the interplay between different forms of discrimination—such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia—create the conditions in which human rights abuses are perpetuated.