By Terry Vanderheyden

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2006 ( – A proposed law to curb prostitution in the U.S. capital has some homosexual activists worried that the profiling would unfairly target transgendered people.

A coalition of 22 homosexual rights groups has signed a letter of protest against the proposed Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005, which would allow police to establish “Prostitution Free Zones” in public areas. The group warns it “will increase harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.”

Program coordinator Darby Hickey, from the homosexual rights group Different Avenues, complained that the program would unfairly target transgendered people. “There’s widespread profiling of transgender women as sex workers,” Hickey, who is transgendered, said, as reported by the Washington Blade. “These measures … have a huge potential for violating people’s rights.”

Hickey’s co-worker, Different Avenues drop-in center coordinator Erika Smith, argued that the law is a way for police to get rid of transgender people. “I think that’s what it’s really, really, really coming down to,” she stated. “I think they are trying to get rid of the transgender community.”

The Omnibus Public Safety Act, introduced last April, besides curbing illegal prostitution, seeks to criminalize gang recruitment and reduce gun violence. A police officer who believes someone within a marked zone is there “for the purpose of engaging in prostitution,” can arrest the individual.


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