LGBT People Shouldn’t Be Punished for Self-Defense

Why didn’t they fight back?

It’s a common — and often insensitive — question directed at survivors of rape, domestic violence or hate crimes. Victim-blaming aside, self-defense cases often shake out in an uneven way, depending on race, gender identity and sexual orientation.

As Rita Smith, former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, noted to the Daily Beast, most female domestic violence victims “who kill in self-defense end up in prison.”

Meanwhile, most domestic abusers don’t even go to jail when the police are called. The CDC found that over half of U.S. women killed under 60 die because of intimate partner violence.

Similarly, people of color are punished more severely than white people for defending themselves. According to the Marshall Project, courts are eight times more likely to justify the actions of white people who kill black men.

And when race and gender collide with sexual orientation, the punishment for self-defense intensifies.

Most states still allow legal defenses that blame violence on the perpetrator, claiming that that person may have panicked due to the victim’s LGBT identitiy.

In the meantime, there are cases like Cece McDonald, an African American transgender woman who faced years in prison after stabbing a man who threatened her on the street.

Or the group of African American lesbians who fought back when a man threatened them with rape, choked one and pulled the dreadlocks off another.

Patreese Johnson stabbed the attacker with a knife in her purse, and the perpetrator spent five days in the hospital. All seven women got jail time.

And a bisexual Bronx teen recently had his charges reduced to manslaughter after stabbing two classmates.

Abel Cendeno, a Hispanic 18-year-old, claimed that homophobic bullying and harassment made him fear for his life. Fifteen-year-old Matthew McCree, who’s black, died. Ariane LaBoy, 16, spent time in the hospital in critical condition.

As this tragic case unfolds, we need to reassess how race and sexual orientation play a role in criminal justice and self-defense. And we must reexamine how to protect students of color from structural and literal violence.

After all, it seems all three students were victims of the system.

In the United States, self-defense isn’t a right shared by all. Let’s stop pretending it is.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

52 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R25 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R25 days ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R25 days ago

ty

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donald Baumgartner
donald Babout a month ago

Right On !!!!!

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Christian M
Christian Mengesabout a month ago

Thx.

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Habout a month ago

Self defense should be regarded / verified / judged the same way for everybody. No difference should be made between the majorities and the minorities, such as hispanic of black people versus the caucasian (white), women versus men, LGTB versus "straight" people, etc... etc... We are all equal (or in any case should be ! ) Despite the feminism saw a big grow since abt 50/60 years ago, a man still is standing above her. The same is also the case for colored people, gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc.. The biggest injustice is even to be found in the House of Justice, viz. the Court, is between the rich and the poor. A rich person generally had a much better and longer education. So his explanation of the "facts" is more detailed, researched, etc.. A poor laborer can only speak the "average" language. And a rich person can pay a far better lawyer than a poor.... I don't think I have to say anything more.


P.S. : 16 out of 46 comments AGAIN limited to "noted", ty", etc.. BRAVO, well spoken !!

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Kimberly W
Kimberly Wallaceabout a month ago

Troubling.

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David Anderson
David Anderson1 months ago

Virginia, your understanding of Christianity is even worse than that of its supposed practitioners who support your assertions. This works the same way that I could call myself a dentist, but you really wouldn't want me working on your teeth.

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 months ago

No one, including the LGBT people, should be punished for defending themselves; to say or think that they should, is nothing less that blatant ignorance. Thanks for sharing.

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Joan E
Joan E1 months ago

Most minorities don't get a fair shake from the law.

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