Post submitted by Remington A. Gregg, former HRC Legislative Counsel

On Wednesday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015.  The bill creates a federal prohibition on racial profiling that includes targeting a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation gender identity or sexual orientation.   

Recent incidents of racial profiling which have ended tragically has brought renewed national attention to the issue in every corner of this country.  Profiling of LGBT individuals also continues to be problem, especially for LGBT people of color and members of the transgender community. In a recent report on profiling by law enforcement, the NAACP found:   

As a number of the human impact stories above show, members of the LGBT community, particularly LGBT people of color, face discrimination at every stage of the criminal justice system. A 2014 national survey indicates that 73 percent of LGBT people and people with HIV report having had face-to-face contact with the police. In another study, a quarter of LGBT people and people with HIV who reported in-person contact with law enforcement said they experienced one form of harassment or misconduct—including profiling, verbal or physical assault, sexual harassment, or assault and false arrest. In a separate survey of transgender discrimination, 22 percent of transgender individuals who had police interactions reported harassment, 6 percent reported physical assault and 2 percent reported being sexually assaulted by officers.

In December 2014, the Department of Justice updated guidance which prohibited federal law enforcement officials from profiling an individual based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion to include gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. While an important step, the guidance is unable to address issues at the state and local level. 

The End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime.  The bill also requires federal law enforcement to maintain adequate policies and procedures designed to eliminate racial profiling (defined broadly), including data collecting and processes for investigating and responding to complaints alleging racial profiling.   

The Human Rights Campaign welcomes the introduction of this bill and urges speedy consideration in both the House and Senate.

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