Condoms... An Instrument Of Crime???
By Victoria Michaels
Pittsburgh, PA - New York City -
Washington DC - San Francisco
18/03/2012 - Pittsburgh, PA has now joined the list of cities - including New York City - where cops
are using condoms possession to justify arrests, but sex worker advocates and safe sex advocates alike in New York are pushing for
a new legislative bill which would put a halt to condoms being considered an "instrument of crime."
My life-long friend Samantha (Pre-Op Transsexual) was arrested in Pittsburgh in January for solicitation charges when
she placed an ad for "Body Rubs"on a popular internet web site ! The Pittsburgh Police stormed her hotel room - put her in
silver bracelets - and posted on their web site that they confiscated exactly 153 condoms charging her not only
with "solicitation" charges, but also for possessing "CONDOMS." I know what you're
thinking.... "Who counted all of those condoms and did they wear rubber to do it?"
This is ironically outrageous and the chilling effect is that it's happening in cities across this nation as sex workers
are now fearful and discouraged to carry condoms with them in fear of catching a second charge, instead of fearing catching a deadly
As an advocate for LGBT Community in Florida and across this Nation I work closely with TERI (Transgender Equality
Rights Initiative) and I am on the board for CATCH (Coalition in Action for Transgender Community Health) which is a national
program to educate the Community about safe sex education and provide them with FREE condoms. Pittsburgh Law Enforcement
charging people for having condoms goes against everything we advocate for.
Staff at the Sex Workers Project have been seeing police reports of arrested sex workers that listed the possession of
condoms as evidence of prostitution for quite some time. Many of the arrests were not of even sex workers, but, rather, simply
incidents of homo-phobic law enforcement officers profiling transgender individuals as sex workers when their personal condoms
were confiscated and used as fabricated "evidence" of prostitution.
New York City has pushed aggressively since 1971 for condom use distributing over more than 100 million free condoms, thus
turning the NYC condom into a legendary icon with its own slogan, "NYC Condom: Get some!". As technology has advanced over
decades, access to condoms are now at the tip of the finger as now there is even an iPhone application that helps guide users to
locate the nearest condom distribution site. Sadly enough, in this same time frame the NYPD has destroyed or confiscated
thousands of condoms found in the possession of suspected workers in the sex/escort industry, using condom possession
as a weapon to justify arrest.
New York Bill No. A01008 is titled: An act to amend the civil practice law and rules, the criminal procedure law and the
executive law, in relation to the use in evidence of the fact of possession of a condom. Its defined purpose is so possession of
contraceptive devices would not be permitted in specified criminal or civil proceedings as evidence of prostitution.
If passed, the New York bill would be a first-of-its-kind law, according to bill sponsors and sex worker advocates across
the nation, perhaps paving the way for similar policies in other places such as Pennsylvania.
In the meantime, many petitions have been started on www.Change.org signed by thousands already and letter have been sent
to the Mayor of New York City. The trend is repeating itself in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and now Pittsburgh, PA. The petitions
urge city Mayors to tell their police forces to stop considering condoms as evidence of intent to commit any crime and by making
public statements declaring that no one should be afraid to practice safe sex in their city. Almost 30,000 people have signed
this petition and you too can check it out at this link: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-dc-san-francisco-and-new-york-condoms-arent-a-crime
This all gives a whole new meaning to the old childhood childhood phrase... "I'm rubber and you are glue,
what ever I say bounces off of me and sticks to you." Indeed "prostitution" is a sensitive topic and
perhaps we live in denial and want to pretend it doesn't exist, yet it does, and for these City Mayor's it
seems the rubber has created quite a sticky situation.
Contact: Victoria Michaels@aol.com www.facebook.com/MissVictoriaMichaels
South Florida Gay News (Editorial Columnist)
www.SFGN.com (Guest Editorial Bi Weekly Columnist)