LGBT Stereotypes and Criminal Convictions

There are very complex issues surrounding LGBT people in the criminal justice system. 


Stereotypes about gay people can lead to them being overcriminalized and convicted of crimes that they did not commit.  Because for hundreds of years, being gay was considered an abberation and an abnormality, it was often (and still is in some jurisdictions) used by the prosecution to show that the gay person is also prone to other types of abnormal, and criminal, behavior. 


Two examples of this:


In the 1970s in Tyler, Texas (Smith County), Kerry Max Cook was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Linda Jo Edwards.  The prosecution’s theory of the case was that Kerry, a suspected but not “out” gay man, had watched a movie tht had inspired him to fly into a “gay rage” and that drove him to murder a woman. The prosecution said at his trial that gay men hated women and that was evidence that he had murdered this woman.  He was exonerated 30 years later and released from death row after coming within days of execution several times.  You can read more about Kerry here:


In 2000, four women in San Antonio TX (Bexar County) were convicted of sexual assault of two young women.  They were sentenced to between 15 and 37 years for this assault.  They maintain their innocence.  They are lesbians, and the prosecution in their cases cited their lesbianism as the driving cause of the assault.  They are fighting to be exonerated of these crimes. You can learn more about them here:


The state can sometimes seek to use a person’s sexuality as a tool to make a jury suspicious and biased against a Defendant.  Especially in child sex cases or sex assaults, the state can seek to connect the sex abuse to the person’s same-sex orientation as a motivating factor for the crime.  People have grave misunderstandings of what it means to be gay, and the prosecution can use that misunderstanding to get convictions by playing on stereotypes of LGBT people.


It is vitally important to LGBT people charged with crimes that they have an attorney who will push back against these stereotypes.  Gay people aren’t any more prone to violent crimes, assaults, or sex crimes than anyone else and may even be less likely to commit these kinds of crimes.  We have to fight back against these attempts to use stereotypes to convict LGBT people and make up for lack of evidence. I defend gay people and make the prosecution, judges, and jury understand that we are more often victims rather than perpetrators.