LGBTQIA+ Justice

As the next DA of Manhattan, I will protect the rights and liberties of all LGBTQIA+ people in NYC. Everyone deserves the right to live their life with dignity, respect, and equal protection under the law. 

As DA, I will have a firm commitment to ensuring our criminal legal system understands the diversity of family forms and is sensitive to all NYC families’ needs. In my jurisdiction, I will protect the integrity of marriage equality under Obergefell (2015). I will work with the family courts to remove discriminatory policies and practices, and improve and strengthen family and adoption protections, ensuring that all LGBTQIA+ residents in NYC have the same parental and custody rights as their straight counterparts. I will advocate for the rights of gender-expansive, intersex, and gay and lesbian youth in the courts.  

I want LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers to walk the streets with dignity and without fear. No one should feel unsafe in this city due to their gender presentation and identity or their sexuality. Just as I have advocated for the decriminalization of sex work and repeal of the Walking While Trans law, I will continue to work to eliminate laws that contribute to the violence and over-policing of trans communities in NYC. I will work tirelessly to address anti-LGBTQIA+ violence without pushing for overly carceral solutions. 

LGBTQIA+ people are disproportionately incarcerated in the US

LGBTQIA+ people are overrepresented in our country’s prisons and jails. Among people who identified as trans, 16% reported that they had spent time incarcerated, compared with only 5% of the US population.[1][2] A survey from 2012 found that 7.9% of people in state and federal prisons identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual — more than double the number of people who identified as LGBT in that same year.[3] Researchers have found that LGBTQIA+ people are also given longer sentences.[4] These high rates of incarceration are likely due to both discrimination within the criminal legal system and the marginalization and discrimination that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face more broadly, which has a profoundly destabilizing effect on peoples’ lives and may leave with them with few means of supporting themselves.[5] People who are forced to leave their homes or their jobs because of their identity are far likelier to come into contact with the criminal legal system. LGBTQIA+ people of color face overlapping systems of discrimination and oppression.

I am committed to decarceration because I know that the punishment bureaucracy in this country will always disproportionately harm people from marginalized groups. As District Attorney I will decline to prosecute the vast majority of misdemeanors and use pretrial incarceration only in the rarest of cases. By doing so, I will strive to decrease the incarcerated population in Manhattan by 80%. Committing to decarceration is necessary in order to prevent the criminal legal system from exacting enormous harms upon the LGBTQIA+ community.  

My Data, Evaluation and Research team will track sexual orientation and gender identity as part of our data collection efforts, in order to ensure that we are fully addressing this issue. The most recent data on this topic is nearly a decade old, indicating the pressing need for broader understanding of how LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers are being impacted today.

Ending the abuse of LGBTQIA+ people in prisons and jails

Research shows that incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people are subjected to physical abuse, sexual abuse, harassment, and myriad forms of mistreatment by corrections staff.[6][7] Trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive people are too often denied healthcare services and medicine, put in solitary confinement or otherwise segregated, and placed in gender inappropriate facilities.[8][9] LGBTQIA+ people of color are twice as likely to be put in solitary confinement, compared with those who are white.[10] These practices must end. 

Trans people are frequently placed in incarceration facilities that do not conform to their gender identity. Furthermore, trans people experience sexual assault in prison at far higher rates than cis people do.[11] These statistics speak to the urgent need to drastically reduce the number of people facing incarceration, while ensuring that those who are incarcerated are treated humanely and in a way that respects their gender identity.

I will hold police and corrections officers accountable for abuse that they commit against LGBTQIA+ people, and criminally prosecute these cases when they break the law.

Reentry support

LGBTQIA+ people often have a significant need for re-entry support after incarceration, due to widespread housing and employment discrimination.[12] Lack of support from family members may be an additional challenge for formerly incarcerated members of the LGBTQIA+ community.[13] I am committed to dedicating resources to support formerly incarcerated LGBTQIA+ folks in finding housing, employment, and support networks. I believe that these support systems should be operated independently of the DA’s office, in order to minimize interactions with the criminal punishment bureaucracy, but will advocate for resources to be diverted into these programs, and commit resources from the DA’s budget into these programs until that budget can be appropriately scaled down.

Fighting discrimination inside and outside of the criminal legal system

Further, in the workplace, NYC must ensure our courts uphold the labor protections extended to LGBTQ workers under the United States Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, (2020). Moreover, such labor protections must extend to everyone, including those working in sex industries. Thus, I support the decriminalization of sex work and will decline to prosecute anyone arrested on prostitution charges. 

As DA, I will work with prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and members of our courts to ensure that the rights of LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers are protected throughout the various phases of our criminal legal process. In the courts, the use of “gay panic” defenses has been used to ignore the crimes against LGBTQIA+ people, especially trans people of color. Courts have applied harsher penalties for LGBTQIA+ defendants, and especially for those who are also poor, BIPOC, and transgender. As I will continue to say, there are two systems, and this must end. 

As DA, I will be bound by the duties of that office. Still, I am broadly committed to a vision for NYC that recognizes that full liberation for LGBTQIA+ communities requires transformative social change, including economic justice, universal healthcare, dismantling white supremacy, ending deportation, and supporting asylum, universal housing, and environmental justice.

I will create an LGBTQIA+ advisory council, to advise my office on implementing these policies and to hold my office accountable. The advisory council will put forth policy recommendations on a number of areas, including training for other staff members. I am committed to building a diverse office, with members of the LGBTQIA+ community in positions of power throughout the DA’s office.

[1] Jaime M. Grant et al., “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2011, reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf.

[2] Allen J. Beck and Thomas P. Bonczar, “Lifetime Likelihood of Going to State or Federal Prison,” (Bureau of Justice Statistics, March 6, 1997), cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1042.

[3] Allen J. Beck et al., “Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12,” (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2013), 2011–12,

[4] Meyer, Ilhan, Andrew Flores, Lara Stemple, Adam Romero, Bianca Wilson, and Jody Herman, “Incarceration Rates and Traits of Sexual Minorities in the United States: National Inmate Survey, 2011–2012,” AJPH Research 107(2), 2017,

[5] “Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People,” Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project, Feb 2016,

[6] Jones, Alexi, “Visualizing the unequal treatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system,” Prison Policy Initiative, March 2021,

[7] “Corrupting Justice: A Primer for LGBT Communities on Racism, Violence, Human Degradation & the Prison Industrial Complex,” AFSC,

[8] Meyer, Ilhan, Andrew Flores, Lara Stemple, Adam Romero, Bianca Wilson, and Jody Herman, “Incarceration Rates and Traits of Sexual Minorities in the United States: National Inmate Survey, 2011–2012,” AJPH Research 107(2), 2017,

[9] “Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black & Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey,” Black & Pink, Oct 2015,

[10] Ibid.

[11]  Allen J. Beck, “Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12 – Supplemental Tables,” (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2014),

[12] Jones, Alexi, “Visualizing the unequal treatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system,” Prison Policy Initiative, March 2021,

[13] Ibid.