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Challenging bias and discrimination in the criminal legal system

The movement for LGBTQ+ liberation was sparked by protests against police violence and government failure to address the needs of our communities.

Decades later, bias and discrimination against our communities run rampant in the criminal legal system. Law enforcement continues to  discriminate against and abuse the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV at alarming rates. 

Lambda Legal stands up to the power of the police and the criminal legal system in a number of ways: We challenge unconstitutional and discriminatory laws that target members of our community. We hold people and institutions accountable for discrimination and abuse by representing LGBTQ+ people and those living with HIV whose legal rights are violated. And we support legislation to advance and protect the rights of our community in the criminal legal system while opposing harmful and discriminatory laws.

Cases on the criminal legal system and police misconduct.

Black and white image of protesters protesting racial injustice

Fast Facts


Nearly half of community members surveyed had face-to-face encounters with law enforcement that indicated police engaged in misconduct.


The number of community members surveyed who said a court employee made negative comments to or about their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or HIV status.


The incarceration rate of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people is 3 times higher than the general US incarceration rate.
Black and white image of protesters protesting racial injustice



Protected & Served? is a project of Lambda Legal, Black and Pink National, and Strength In Numbers that looks at data — quantitative information and personal stories — gathered from over 2,500 LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV, about their experiences with misconduct involving police, courts, prisons, jails, schools, and other government agencies.

We know that LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV experience high rates of discrimination and bias in the criminal legal system, especially when they hold multiple marginalized identities, yet there is very little research on this topic.

Protected and Served? 2022 equips us with facts and data that will support new research, advocacy, litigation, and policy efforts to address unlawful bias, discrimination, and abuse of LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV by law enforcement, courts, prisons, schools, and other government agencies and to hold them accountable.

Read the Full Report

Your rights

Explore our collection of resources to learn more about your rights when it comes to the criminal legal system—including law enforcement, prisons and jails, and in the courts.  Have a specific question that’s not answered below? Visit our Help Desk.