Meet Joe, champion for LGBT rights
Stopping prisoner rape is a gay rights issue. As LGBT Pride Month wraps up – and as we celebrate yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court decision – let’s honor the LGBT survivors who are leading this fight.
Joe Booth is a fighter. As a JDI Survivor Council member, he’s been a tireless advocate for the human rights of inmates. Joe has traveled the country talking to corrections officials, urging them to adopt better practices to protect people behind bars, especially LGBT inmates.
Sadly, Joe has first-hand knowledge of why his work is so important. While serving time at a California state prison, Joe was put in a cell with a man known by staff to prey on gay inmates. Joe, who is openly gay, knew he wasn’t safe and asked staff to move him. Instead, they did nothing. Left in a cell with the predator, Joe was raped, viciously and repeatedly.
The most disturbing part about Joe’s story is that it’s such a common one. A recent government survey found that 39 percent of gay men who had been in state prison were sexually abused by another inmate. In men’s and women’s facilities alike, LGBT prisoners suffer this type of abuse at ten times the rate of those who are straight.
Here’s the good news: the sexual abuse of LGBT inmates is absolutely preventable. Thanks largely to the efforts of survivors like Joe, we now have strong national standards with specific provisions to keep LGBT inmates safe. As Joe put it, “It is possible to protect the human rights of LGBT inmates – and I’m not going to stop fighting until we do.”