Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has just repealed a law that was meant to curtail prostitution on the streets of New York City. Activists have called the “Walking While Trans” law discriminatory against transgenders, women, and people of color. The pressure from the group accounts for Cuomo’s reversal of the long-standing law.
The law was passed in 1976 and it criminalizes loitering in public spaces when a police officer determines that the loitering is intended to facilitate prostitution. As of Tuesday, it is no more after Cuomo signed a bill ending it.
The law has been criticized over the years for allegedly being vague. Activists claim that it has led to abuse by police officers. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, approximately 1,300 people were arrested under the law between 2012 and 2015. Allegedly, 85% of those taken into custody were black or Latina.
Cuomo received praise for repealing the law. That praise is overshadowed by his COVID-19 response involving nursing homes. It also seems to indicate that Cuomo is taking a stance against police in favor of political activists.
“For too long New York State has permitted police to target New Yorkers solely for their gender expression, and frankly, their existence,” stated New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera on Tuesday.
“I’m thankful today that not only will the Walking While Trans Ban be repealed,” she proclaimed, “but that New Yorkers who’ve been previously prosecuted under this law will now be able to seal their records as well, a critical change that will allow all New Yorkers to move on and live their lives free from the effects of this discriminatory law.”
“The loitering statute known as the Walking While Trans law has fueled discrimination in our neighborhoods, especially in its discrimination against Black women and trans women of color,” New York state Sen. Julia Salazar said.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman claimed the statute allowed police to “stop-and-frisk trans women of color and other marginalized groups for simply walking down the street.”
“This outdated, discriminatory statute has led to hundreds of unnecessary arrests of transgender women of color and a broader culture of fear and intimidation for transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers,” Hoylman adamantly claimed.
New York’s chapter of the ACLU released their own statement that congratulated their “trans + gender-nonconforming advocate partners,” on the win.
No one, however, is mentioning the fact that prostitution will most likely increase after this politically correct move by Cuomo and both houses of the New York Legislature. The police are vilified here and their jobs just became even more difficult on the streets of New York. There is no word from the NYPD on this yet but it is doubtful they will support the repeal.
The issue is moot since DAs in New York have refused to prosecute those arrested under this law in recent years.
Cuomo stated after he signed the bill into law that the statute was “archaic.”
“COVID exposed low tide in America and the ‘walking while trans’ policy is one example of the ugly undercurrents of injustices that transgender New Yorkers — especially those of color — face simply for walking down the street,” Cuomo said in his politically calculated statement.
“For too long trans people have been unfairly targeted and disproportionately policed for innocent, lawful conduct based solely on their appearance. Repealing the archaic ‘walking while trans’ ban is a critical step toward reforming our policing system and reducing the harassment and criminalization transgender people face simply for being themselves.”