New report shows LGBTQ, HIV discrimination in criminal legal system

A report from Lambda Legal and Black and Pink National released this week found high levels of discrimination against LGBTQ and people with HIV in the criminal justice system.

NEW YORK – A report from Lambda Legal and Black and Pink National released this week found high levels of discrimination against LGBTQ and people with HIV in the criminal justice system.

The report, Protected and Served? 2022, found “alarming” rates of misconduct, abuse, and discrimination LGBTQ people and people living with HIV experience in the criminal legal system.  

The legal advocacy group said the report is comprised of quantitative data and personal stories gathered from more than 2,500 community members who participated in a survey about their experiences with the criminal legal system including police and other law enforcement, courts, prisons, jails, schools, and other government agencies. 

“Everyone who interacts with the criminal legal system, including LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV, must be treated fairly and have legal rights that must be protected,” said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney and Protected and Served? Project Manager, Richard Saenz. “It is urgent and imperative that we address the root causes and devastating consequences of the obscene levels of abuse, discrimination, and misconduct reported throughout the criminal legal system – and hold those responsible accountable. We hope this report is an additional resource for community members, policy makers, and advocates.”  

“The Protected and Served? report is a critical tool for understanding the pervasive harms and injustices faced by incarcerated LGBTQ+ people.” Black and Pink National Executive Director, Dr. Tatyana Moaton. “We can shift the narrative and demand systemic change by amplifying the voices and experiences of those directly impacted. Our collective responsibility is to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their incarceration status or identity, are protected and served with dignity and humanity.” 

Some of the findings include:

  • Half of all participants that had engaged in sex work experienced police misconduct. Participants indicated that most commonly, police took their money (26%) or demanded sex in exchange for not arresting them (18%). 
  • An overwhelming majority (94.3%) of detained participants, reported experiencing abuse in prisons and jails, including one or a combination of: verbal assault, physical assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, other sexual contact, being referred to by the wrong name or pronoun, and being accused of an offense they did not commit.  
  • Nearly two-thirds of those in detention experienced a two-week or longer interruption of their medication routine, including hormone replacement therapy, antiretrovirals, heart medications, and psychotropic medications. 
  • In the courts, transgender participants of color were more likely to have their transgender status inappropriately revealed than white trans participants (38% vs. 22%). 
  • Participants who had face-to-face encounters with police in the past five years (57%) were less likely to trust the police than those who did not.  

To read the report, please visit 

To read the Spotlight Report: Detained Participants, which offers more detail about the responses of participants in jail or prison at the time of the survey, go here.  

Know a useful resource?

Share it with your community!

We aggregate links that connect to resources across Illinois. If you know of a site that should be included or want your website listed, please submit it!

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top