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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brion Curran (DFL)

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Queer Legislators Caucus Statement on Passage of LGBTQIA2S+ Legislation

Sunday, May 19, 2024

SAINT PAUL, Minn- Yesterday, the Minnesota House passed HF 5216, the joint Public Safety and Judiciary and Civil Law Conference Committee Report on a bipartisan 107-19 vote. The package included two key priorities for the Queer Legislators Caucus.  

The first is HF 4657, a bill banning the LGBTQIA2S+ “Panic” Defense authored by Rep. Brion Curran (DFL-White Bear Lake), Vice Chair of the Queer Legislators Caucus.   

According to the National LGBTQ+ Bar, the LGBTQIA2S+ panic defense is a legal strategy where “defendants charged with violent crimes weaponize their victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/expression to reduce or evade criminal liability.” 

The Queer Legislators Caucus emphasized the importance of passing the legislation in the following statement:  

“Trans women, especially Black trans women, in our community deserve the same sense of peace, love, security, and intimacy as any other group in society. Trans existence is not deception. Being trans is not a crime nor should it be a death sentence. The law should be on the side of protecting victims, regardless of who that victim may be.  

“The violence Black trans women face in the U.S. is an urgent issue. According to the Human Rights Campaign, between 2013 and 2022, more than two-thirds of all recorded fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people involved a firearm – including over three-quarters of all reported fatalities in 2022. Of those victims, over 63% have been Black transgender women. This means that Black trans women are targeted for violence at a disproportionate rate. This violence is a complex issue, but it stems from racism, transphobia, and the intersection of these identities.”  

Statistics show that members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are at a greater risk of criminal victimization than their straight and cisgender counterparts. According to data from the U.S. Dept. of Justice, LGBTQIA2S+ individuals are twice as likely to be victimized in violent crimes, and a 2021 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that trans people are the victims of crime (both violent and non-violent) four times as often as cisgender people. 

The second provision included in the report is HF 4417, authored by Representative Alicia ‘Liish’ Kozlowski (DFL- Duluth). The bill establishes a task force to review issues related to violence against Latine women, girls, and LGBTQIA2S+ people and makes recommendations to reduce and end that violence. The proposal builds upon previous initiatives focused on missing and murdered women, girls, and gender-expansive peoples in Indigenous and African American communities. This bill expands those efforts to focus on violence prevention and to address the unique needs of the Latine community to prevent violence, investigate the high incidence of gender-based violence, including LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans, and fund this critical state-wide work.   

"Latine women & LGBTQ people in Minnesota face high rates of violence, often lacking support due to language and cultural barriers,” said Rep. Kozlowski. “A task force will address this by providing resources and support services for survivors, make equitable systems from the workplace to housing, and end the preventable violence facing our community. Minnesota is investing in solutions and future of Latines' across our state.” 

Gender-based violence is deadly in Minnesota and the statistics are alarming. According to the 2022 Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota report, at least 21 Minnesotans were killed by a current or former partner in 2019.  The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that 47% of victims of sex and labor exploitation in the U.S. are Latine, which is outsized to Latine people making up 20% of the population. Although LGBTQIA2S ppl have been undercounted, the Urban Indian Health Institute found that 78% - 85% of LGBTQIA2S have experienced some form of violence due to transmission, including sexual assault, physical violence, and murder.   

At the same time, Latine people are one of the youngest, fastest-growing populations in Minnesota. Minnesota’s Latine population has more than doubled since 2000, with at least 345,000 Minnesota residents identifying as Latine, according to the 2020 Census. Since the 1980s, nearly all Latine population growth has occurred in counties outside the metro – from Willmar, to Long Prairie, Duluth, the Iron Range, and beyond - Latine people are in all 87 counties across the state. 

The Senate is scheduled to hear the conference committee report for the Judiciary and Public Safety supplemental budget (HF 5216) today. When both the House and Senate bills have cleared their respective chambers, it will be sent to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.  

Video of the floor session is available on House Public Information Services YouTube channel. 

The Queer Caucus is composed of members of the Minnesota State House and Senate who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. The Queer Caucus works to advance and protect the rights of the whole Queer community, as well as the rights of our intersecting communities.