Police Launch LGBT Safe Zones as Refuge From Hate Crimes

From left to right: Captain Robert Moser, Supervisor David Campos, Chief of Police Greg Suhr, Sister Pat N Leather at the podium, and Greg Carey of the Castro Community Patrol. Out of view is Supervisor Scott Wiener.

From left to right: Captain Robert Moser, Supervisor David Campos, Chief of Police Greg Suhr, Sister Pat N Leather at the podium, and Greg Carey of the Castro Community Patrol. Out of view is Supervisor Scott Wiener.

En Español.

San Francisco has become the first city in the country to launch citywide police station “safe zones” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, staffed with police liaisons trained to serve that community.

All 10 police district stations in San Francisco now have signs that designate the station as a safe zone and state that “LGBT individuals will be treated with respect, compassion and honesty.” The signs are intended as a preventive measure against hate crimes and a way to encourage victims to report incidents.

The police department’s LGBT Advisory Forum is leading the effort in partnership with the SFPD, community groups like the Castro Community on Patrol, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of charitable street performers who use high camp and satire to combat sexual intolerance.

“This is a historical moment,” said Sister Pat N Leather, who appeared in her mock nun’s habit beside San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr at a kickoff event at Mission Station this week. In Washington state, Leather said, police have tried creating a room for LGBT community members within a police station, but she believes that San Francisco’s planned program is the country’s most extensive yet.

In the coming months, liaisons for each police district station will be trained to assist members of the LGBT community who come to the police for help. Organizers plan to reach out to local businesses that would also like to display signs that designate them as an LGBT safe zone.

The program comes in the wake of an incident in February of this year in which two transgender individuals were assaulted in the Mission. Supporters of the safe zone initiative hope it will help LGBT community members to feel more comfortable reporting hate crimes to the police.

Harassment and similar crimes targeted to the LGBT community are widely underreported, said Leather. The safe zone initiative is meant to boost the reporting rate and make crime statistics more accurate.

The Latino transgender community is often a particular target of violence and discrimination, said District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who supports the new effort.

“This is not the San Francisco Police Department of the 1970s,” said District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. Some LGBT community members, however, still distrust the police, officials said.

“What are they going to say to the police officer — I was out cruising when this [crime] happened?” Leather asked. Organizers said that with dedicated liaisons at each district station, they hope the answer to that question might eventually be yes.

76 Comments

  1. Fusillisara

    This is great. As a woman, I wish there was a dedicated safe zone for us. Reporting sexual assault usually means being accused of not taking personal responsibility or wasting police resources. Will crimes against women ever be seen as hate crimes I wonder?

    • scum

      All physical crimes should be considered hate crimes, crimes are not an act of peace. All people should be treated equally across the board.

      • rokoroko96

        Yeah, scum, but when you get gay bashed, and the police start asking questions like it’s all your fault, it is devastating.

      • Fusillisara

        I agree. Hate crime legislation is used to give harsher penalties in order to provide more protection for historically persecuted groups. There is much to be said about whether it actually works or is used appropriately. Why women aren’t considered a persecuted group is beyond me.

    • Raul

      You already are a member of a special protected class under the Violence Against Women Act.

      This kind of thing fundamentally undermines the concept that we are all equal under the law.

      • Fusillisara

        VAWA was created bc violence against women wasn’t being treated equally. It was considered a private, ‘domestic’ matter that didn’t deserve police resources. Hence the funding.

        I’d point the finger at our pay to play legal system before VAWA and the concepts it “undermines”.

        Wealth inequality, racism, sexism, and arrest quotas are the major causes of people *not quite* being equal under the law.

  2. Vanessa Gonzalez

    That photo is highly insensitive. Some guy is wearing a costume and demanding protection for his “right” to mock the Catholic faith? The photo is almost comical if the wacky weirdo speaking at the podium wasn’t mocking the religious faith of others.

    …and we wonder why the nation mocks San Francisco as the “land of fruits and nuts?”

  3. good idea safe zone good thinking

  4. keith

    Shouldn’t they just promote it as a safe zone for anyone? Why be specific? Can a straight person not go to a police station for safety? Could a LGBT not do so before today?

    • Mel

      I think that what’s not being said here is that maybe police have needed to go through some sensitivity training and to treat the LGBT with the same respect as anyone else. Most likely, especially with transgenders, there has probably been some negativity from the police and this is what has caused this distrust and feeling that they won’t get the help they need when a crime has been committed against them. Straight people don’t have to worry about that, it is already a given that a police department is a safe haven. But if you have been mocked by the police or treated rudely for your sexual preference or the way you dress, you might not feel that way at all.

      • Trinity

        Good point, Mel. due to maltreatment and/or indifference shown by SFPD in the past toward the LGBT community, they’ve undergone a sensitivity training of sorts, so I’d say that this is more about SFPD performing an outward display of law enforcement support that should have already been there. Everyone should feel safe or at least feel safe to report crimes committed against them…LGBT or not.

      • Honestly – after living in SF for 22 years 18 of in the shawdow of the Castro – I can honeslty say – gay on gay violence is much more prevelant than Gay Straight Violence…. which I assume the safe zone have been put in place for.

        SF is pretty safe for everyone – This is political correctness not a solution to a problem… or rather a solution looking for a problem.

      • Deanna

        Really. Have you seen how some of these people act towards others? It is no wonder they get assaulted. Sorry. If I am dating a “guy” only to find out at a potential intimate moment that it is a chick, someone is going to get hurt. Then there are the ones that start touching you and it takes progressively more violent verbal warnings, if not actual physical self-defense, for them to back off when you have told them repeatedly to QUIT touching you (been there with a GBT male). I have a homosexual associate and even he hates the flamers.
        Assault without cause or direct provocation (we are not talking self defense or simply being asked if you are queer) is a crime and should always be treated as such. Just act like a real human being and not those horrible stereotypes or flamers when you report it and there should not be a problem. By the way, most of you guys who dress like chicks look like crap; ditto for the fem-thingies. Guy in the women’s room (if that is your plumbing then you are MALE) while I am in there or my little niece is probably going to result in someone going to the hospital and my being interrogated by the police as to why.

        • Craigbow

          It blows me away that ANYONE can look at the picture at the top of this article and THEN discuss it seriously. What happened to the most beautiful city in the world???
          -A Former Californian (hoping this crap doesn’t move East)

  5. WC

    What an excellent idea, I wish there were safe zones from guns… :P

  6. Michael

    Anyone that has a need to be treated special and more deserving than everyone else has some serious underlying self esteem issues.

    • Jack

      This has nothing to do with being “treated special” and “more deserving”. It has everything to do with feeling safe, and knowing there are places to go when feeling threatened.

    • Mel

      You may see it that way but if they were treated equal to begin with, none of this would have been necessary. It’s not to treat them special, it’s to treat the equally.

    • Bre

      The GLBTQ community is often subjected to terrible treatment within police stations as a result of lack of knowledge of the community and homophobia/transphobia. By ensuring that these stations are well versed in GLBTQ issues they have created a “safe space” for these individuals just like any heterosexual, cis-gendered person like you or I would expect.

  7. David

    As a left handed person who has been a victim of crime, I would also like to request a safe zone.

  8. Coley

    i dont see straight people getting assaulted for the sole reason that they are straight. all those apposed obviously dont understand how hard it is to be gay in this country.

    • Mario

      That is SO true Coley. I am gay, and having been so all my life, I can say, many gay people are self conscious in public, but we deserve the same protection as anyone else. Straight people get the protection, if gays don’t, there is a serious problem!

    • Raul

      Maybe it would be a little easier if you didn’t attend serious police press conferences dressed as leather-fetish nuns, organize boycotts against organizations like the Cub Scouts, and demand the rest of society redefine millennia-old fundamental cultural institutions to suit your whims.

      Just sayin’.

  9. Fudge Packard

    Not mentioned that “safe zone” is at firing range.

  10. Dan

    Some people more attracted to same sex than opposite. Some people more attracted to transgender or bisexual. Or some people more attracted to little children.It’s sexual preference, not orientation and it is a sinful act.

  11. Rear Admiral Dongey McFudge

    I find this condescending. Apparently, the reason for “LGBT” not reporting to the police is due to skepticism of the police.

    Putting up a multicolored sign calling out LGBT people, as if, “yeah, we are a safe place now,” assumes that all LGBT people need is a queer sign, and “OH, they must be nice.”

    How dehumanizing.

    • Mel

      That’s an interesting perspective. Maybe it’s more like an apology and a message that they don’t have worry about how they are going to be treated when they walk in that door. It takes time to build a distrust of the police. It takes a grand gesture to work on repairing the relationship.

  12. Mary P

    I think it is a bad idea to establish safe zone for the LGTB because it concentrates them for targeting by hateful people.

  13. John McFall

    L,G,B,T,P
    lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,
    I be S, Guy lol were is my Safe Zones lol God loves us all. What is with that nun face I don’t get that is she a mime

  14. Giovanni

    This LGBT course of action could be the beginning of actual segregation in disguise. Sure, lets begin marking all places that are “LGBT friendly”, starting with police stations, and they mention reaching out to businesses to display LGBT signs as well. Hmm, does anybody remember way back when there use to be signs that read “Whites Only” or “No Blacks Allowed”. Now look at this with again with wider eyes. Once everybody displays LGBT locations, that’s where the LGBT community is going to be restricted to. Now I am a straight guy, I love women, I’m Mexican American, and none of this LGBT thing has anything to do with me, and even I can see how this “Most Likely” will end up. BAD for LGBT

    • Missionite

      Yes it took many many years of civil rights work and protest to get to the point that signs for White and Blacks to be removed. Until we get to that point with the transgender community no signs will be needed.

    • Firzt

      “Diversity” is the first step to segregation, profiling, and prejudice!!

  15. It’s a great day for the city by the bay. Leading by example, again. Much more to be addressed on this issue, but this is a great development. Onward!

  16. Bob

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming that most people in the LGBT community have a generally shared belief in the accuracy of evolutionary theory. Obviously, the trait does not perpetuate the species. Given these two assumptions, isn’t it logical to conclude that it would be natural for a species (any species) to generally reject homosexuality? I thought that was how evolution supposedly works, by naturally selecting traits that ensure the survival of a species. The theory makes no room for moral considerations, seeing these as human inventions. I’m asking the question because I’m trying to understand how evolutionist homosexuals reconcile their belief in evolution with their contention that their lifestyle should be protected. As a non-evolutionist, I believe that homosexuals should be afforded the same rights as anyone else. Two (but not the only two) moral bases for my position are, one, that God says that we should love our neighbors and, two, the founding document’s implication that justice should be blind. So, what say you?

    • Merri Banks

      If your understanding of evolution were accurate, there wouldn’t be LGBT people now, would there? Obviously there is a benefit to a population in having a certain percentage of adults who are not tied down with reproductive tasks. This is why humans live so long past their reproductive years, too – grandparents are helpful in raising children, and so are gay aunts and uncles. Transgender is different – just a natural variation that our culture rejects.

    • Trish

      Actually, if you do a bit of research, there are a number of other species where homosexuality has been studied. It’s not purely a human thing and those species have managed to survive as well. Unfortunately I don’t have my old textbook or I’d be able to list examples.

  17. ross

    Positive step in the right direction…..keep it moving!

  18. fred

    how about an area where priests can’t touch children ?

  19. fred

    does that mean they are restricted to those areas because thats what this will lead to. you don’t want to separate you want to blend in.

  20. Ashley

    This is ridiculous! A LGBT “safe zone”? So…if a LGBT person goes out of that zone then what? Is it okay to perform hate crimes then? WTF!!!! I’m a strong supporter of the LGBT movement but that’s kind of insulting to say that they should only have certain designated areas to feel safe in.

  21. Shane

    *looks at photo*

    I see these safe zones aren’t refuge from fashion crimes.

  22. Suzie

    I find men who dresses up like women are truly mocking women. SF is one of the most intolerant cities. God forbid if you hold up a YES on Prop 8 sign. I find SF slowly declining in moral values for sure.

  23. Javed Ali

    Its a very good decision and very good thinking for peoples.In this action is need peoples.

  24. Donald

    So when will the city institute safe zones for Blacks?

  25. come on, where in sf do their rights not far exceed Americans not in their club? Uh, no where?

  26. Anonymous

    I’m Black, where was my safe zone?

  27. h8r

    as Obama wants us to do-lets all turn queerlet.

  28. Donald Moore

    What’s next, safe zones for Muslims?

  29. Yes, people need to be free from harrasment, but what’s with Pat N Leather in a fake and freakish mock nuns suit. What’s LTGB about that? Isn’t he/she mocking woman of faith? Isn’t that harrassment. Don’t people of faith have an equal right to be free from harrassment. Apparrently not in SF

  30. small potatoes

    isn’t every crime a hate crime

  31. Baybreeze

    This is good intention of course…as a parent with an Autistic child, where is a safe zone for them? Or any of us really?

  32. Judith Shipstad

    Will somebody please drop a bomb on San Francissyco and put it out of its misery?

  33. George W Busch

    Seriously, does San Francisco really need this? It’s the liberal headquarters/capital of the world. They are fighting a battle that just does not exist. It’s purpose, I believe, is to create awareness so that other cities may follow in more close-minded/conservative communities. Castro, as well as the entire city is a “safe zone” as represented by rainbow flags flying practically in your face everywhere (i.e. businesses, Bart stations, taxi’s, billboards, posters, murals, bumper stickers, media, parades, …it’s unavoidable!). I mean, if they already allow nude zones/beaches how much safer can you get? How about we focus that money on the growing homeless problem you see west of the financial district? Took a wrong turn down Larkin St. the other day and thought I was in a third world country it was so bad.

  34. D

    In just wanted to know which church does Sister Pat N Leather goes to?

  35. Not a Fag

    This is a terrible idea and further promotes the idea of homosexuality as being something normal and “okay” in society. These people are terribly ill, they need to seek medical treatment, not police assistance.

  36. Carlos Montalvo

    So when are the SFPD going to install Safe Zones for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians & Middle Eastern ethnic groups? If the purpose of the program is this…

    “The safe zone initiative is meant to boost the reporting rate and make crime statistics more accurate.”

    Im sure all the ethnic groups I mentioned would comply especially from police profiling. Why are they the only ones to get one?

  37. Harry Callahan

    I miss Dirty Harry’s honesty. There would be safe zones for Whites–since everyone else already has a ‘safe zone.’

    I bet these will work just as well as “gun free zones” have worked. Brilliant.

  38. James

    No such things as safe zones. If history has proven anything, it that you can hurt anybody. Not a threat, just saying.

  39. Jay

    This is absurd! A safe zone for LGBT. They have turned into the aggressors! How about a safe zone for Christians and other religions as we are now hounded by the LGBT community. They do not respect our values and/or beliefs and force us by legal means to cater to them. What a joke and complete waste of public funds and yet we cannot use public funds to put up a cross/bible at the local courthouse!

    • WM American

      LESS THAN 1% OF AMERICA IS CLAMIED TO BE GAY…. THEY HAVE TO LUMP IN TRANS, BI,ECT JUST TO BRING UP THE PERCENTAGE TO 2%….
      WHY DO WE TOLERATE LESS THAN1% TO DESTROY AMERICAS FAMILY VALUES AND REPLACE WITH THIER OWN!!!!!

      BEING OPENINGLY GAY AND HAVING RIGHTS TO MARRAGE HAS NEVER BEEN ALLOWED IN CIVILLIZED SOCIETY IN HUMAN HISTORY….

      WHY DO WE ALLOW THEM TO TAKE OVER!!!!

      WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

    • WM American

      LESS THAN 1% OF AMERICA IS CLAMIED TO BE GAY…. THEY HAVE TO LUMP IN TRANS, BI,ECT JUST TO BRING UP THE PERCENTAGE TO 2%….
      WHY DO WE TOLERATE LESS THAN1% TO DESTROY AMERICAS FAMILY VALUES AND REPLACE WITH THIER OWN!!!!!

      BEING OPENINGLY GAY AND HAVING RIGHTS TO MARRAGE HAS NEVER BEEN ALLOWED IN CIVILLIZED SOCIETY IN HUMAN HISTORY….

      WHY DO WE ALLOW THEM

  40. Red Dwarf

    Gimme a break!

  41. Firzt

    so if pat n leather shows up at the police station out of costume, how will people recognize her? I think whomever that is, needs to dress normally as this is a serious event, not a costume party or clown act!

    I understand these folks need help, but this picture makes it look like the patents are running the asylum.

  42. Ben Dover

    That is so gay.

  43. Deanna

    Since all these “special” groups and “minorities” can have their exclusive colleges, grants, funds, zones, clubs, etc. and get special treatment from the legislature, as a heterosexual, white, Christian female I want there to exist an American Caucasian College Fund, Caucasian only schools and clubs, European Descendant of the Pilgrims Grants and Funds to Help Native Born Americans Own Businesses and Start Productive Lives, European Descendant Only Clubs, and Christian Fundamental Safe Zones. Since these groups can push their ideologies, sexual preferences, and so on onto us, but our engaging in peaceful demonstrations results in police assault on our persons such as have happened in major cities, I want our own darned communities and country.

    • Dude

      They actually have all those things. What you guys really need is your own basketball league, to showcase solid fundamentals without petty distractions like dunking.

  44. JasonH

    W.T.F. Is it halloween? Try acting normal and you’ll be treated normally.

  45. Mathew Johnson

    To the SFPD & the Community Organizations who’ve stepped up to do their part in helping all people feel safer in the world: WELL DONE!

    FUCK da Haters!

  46. randolph mortimer

    Wow, without reading these comments, I never would have guessed the Mission was so homophobic – especially with Campos being gay and all.

  47. meatsack

    Wouldn’t a sign that said, “Safe Zone for all people being harassed or attacked” be better?

Comments are closed.