Monday, September 17, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation hails the new United Nations publication, Born Free and Equal, and the obligations of States to end discrimination

The head of the United Nations
LEXINGTON, KY -- The United Nations Human Rights Office has released a new publication, Born Free and Equal (download), which outlines core legal obligations that countries have for their LGBT people. The guide is built around five core expectations: protect people from homophobic violence, prevent torture, decriminalize homosexuality, prohibit discrimination, and safeguard LGBT people’s freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

“What we are witnessing it the issue of LGBTI equality finally being placed front and center on the world stage,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “We at Kentucky Equality Federation, a voting member of ILGA at the United Nations applaud the leadership of Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, the head of the United Nations.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon stated: “To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, let me say — you are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you, is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to uphold. Today, I stand with you and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you too. A historic shift is under way — more states see the gravity of the problem….We must tackle the violence, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, end discrimination and educate the public.” (watch)

The full list includes many policies that most States in the United States does not have in place:

  • Protect people from homophobic and transphobia violence.
  • Include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in hate crime laws.
  • Establish effective systems to record and report hate-motivated acts of violence.
  • Ensure effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and redress for victims of such violence.
  • Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim.
  • Prevent the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons in detention by prohibiting and punishing such acts and ensuring that victims are provided with redress.
  • Investigate all acts of mistreatment by State agents and bring those responsible to justice.
  • Provide appropriate training to law enforcement officers and ensure effective monitoring of places of detention.
  • Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex.
  • Ensure that individuals are not arrested or detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and are not subjected to baseless and degrading physical examinations intended to determine their sexual orientation.
  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Enact comprehensive laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination. In particular, ensure non-discriminatory access to basic services, including in the context of employment and health care.
  • Provide education and training to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT and intersex people.
  • Safeguard freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBT and intersex people. Any limitations on these rights must be compatible with international law and must not be discriminatory.
  • Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.

Last December, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a report about the extensive rates of LGBT persecution across the globe.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon has called for an end to this discrimination. (previous press release)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gay Hate Crime at the Warren County Regional Jail - Nose Partially Bitten Off

Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned the unprovoked attack on an openly gay male while in the custody of the Warren County Jail. The incident was reported to Kentucky Equality Federation’s Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee. Kentucky Equality Federation has tried to reach an agreement with the County Attorney, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Warren County Jailer to no avail.

The Warren County Jailer insists the Kentucky Department of Corrections is responsible for what happened to the victim despite the fact that he was under the protective custody of the Warren County Jailer, given that he was technically a ward of the Commonwealth, not the County.

Nevertheless, his safety and protection were the absolute responsibility of the Warren County Jailer and staff, despite what it read on his paperwork.

The victim, Brandon Milam stated: "I was an inmate in the Warren County Regional Jail in the Protective Custody cell. Other inmates made it well known that they did not approve that I was gay. I remember hearing my nose getting ripped off my face and seeing him spit it on the floor. They all 4 started in yelling "Kill the Faggot" and "Beat that lil’ Ho Fag." I was also called queer several times. I was in jail for a probation violation over a shoplifting charge. I wasn't a flight risk and I had no violent history. My nose was basically bitten off, they attached my nose and told me that there was only a 1% chance that the tissue was going to live and that there would more than likely going to be numerous reconstructive surgeries which I cannot afford. Because of the holiday, I could not immediately go before the Judge to be placed on house arrest so I was returned to the jail. One violent inmate put a bounty on me for anyone to jump me. Later I was placed released and placed on house arrest. The jail canceled my follow-up appointments to reconstruct my nose and has refused to release my records to me."

"The deliberate indifference that the jail facility seemed to maintain when placing Mr. Milam in the cell with the attackers while being aware of his sexual orientation opens them to civil liability," stated Attorney Jillian Hall, Kentucky Equality Federation’s Vice President of Legal. "While being homosexual in and of itself does not necessarily warrant special treatment while incarcerated, recklessly ignoring this fact and placing a vulnerable inmate with others who are likely to commit a violent act such as this meets the legal standard and opens the facility, on-duty guards, and jailer to civil action. The commonwealth must pay his medical expenses as required by KRS 441.045(5) in addition to case law such as Veney v. Wyche which found that 'Segregation of male homosexual inmates was justified by legitimate penological interests in prison safety and security.'"

Hall continued: "Federal facilities are required to follow the Prison Rape Elimination Act."

"Because of the lack of response by jail officials and the county, I have instructed Kentucky Equality Federation’s in-house attorney, Jillian Hall, to file complaints with the Kentucky Department of Law and appropriate federal enforcement agencies," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Regardless of the charge, inmates have rights and it is presumed that people will be safe in jail, especially when the accused has not committed a violent offense and is placed in arms reach of violent people. We demand that the commonwealth pay his medical expenses, including reconstructive surgery to his partially bitten off nose. Kentucky Equality Federation anticipates a swift monetary settlement in this case, and we demand the Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney charge those who assaulted Mr. Milam and use Kentucky’s Hate Crime law, a post conviction elevator, which includes sexual orientation."

Palmer continued: "Having an uncaring attitude towards LGBTI inmates, as well as their fundamental human rights and dignity, appears to be a growing trend across the Commonwealth’s County Jailers, we have documented complaints against the Kentucky State Police, the Madison County Jail, the Three Rivers Regional Jail (Hazard), and now Warren County. In our system of government, we presume innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. No jail in the Commonwealth would place a neo-Nazi in the same cell with a person of Jewish descent or a Black person. Steps must be taken to protect LGBTI inmates from violence, especially when they are already being called derogatory names such as queer and faggot. This case reaches beyond what happened to Mr. Milam; since anyone can swear a warrant for your arrest this could happen to any LGBTI community member or any other minority group, regardless of substantial evidence or even guilt."