Vulnerable Populations

Table of Contents

HIV Decriminalization

HIV was decriminalized in January 2022 by Governor Phil Murphy. New Jersey is one of 12 states across the nation that have modernized or repealed their HIV criminalization laws. The previously existing laws around HIV were outdated, ineffective, and discriminatory. They treated HIV differently from any communicable disease and increased stigma against people living with HIV, leading to worse health outcomes and higher rates of incarceration in Black, brown, and low income communities (which disproportionately affected LGBTQ+ individuals). Since aiding in the successful decriminalization of HIV, Garden State Equality has worked to continue HIV advocacy work through PrEP & PEP legislation, expanding free HIV testing for communities, and spreading awareness and dismantling stigma through our events, tabling opportunities, and trainings.

Sex Workers’ Rights

Garden State Equality works in conjunction with Bridges4Life, an organization led by Tahtianna Fermin, a Black trans woman and former sex worker. We strive to center Black trans sex workers at the forefront of the conversation. We aim to decriminalize sex work in the state of New Jersey so sex workers can have fair and safe access to employment without fear of incarceration or harm.

Housing Equity

There are many issues facing LGBTQ+ communities, but housing is especially important because everyone deserves the right to live somewhere without discrimination. Members of the LGBTQ+ community face high rates of housing discrimination, and LGBTQ+ youth face more than twice the homelessness risk of heterosexual, cisgender youth. Currently, up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Creating a safe space for our LGBTQ+ family is extremely important and necessary in the state of New Jersey. Garden State Equality is part of housing coalitions with many other LGBTQ+ organizations and housing organizations that work tirelessly to ensure secure and safe housing for the LGBTQ+ community. Our goal is to one day create a trans/nonbinary housing facility in Asbury Park.

Cannabis Justice

Cannabis was decriminalized in New Jersey in 2022. Since then, Garden State Equality worked with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission to host an information session on starting a cannabis business as an LGBTQ+ BIPOC and/or veteran business owner. We offered expungements for nonviolent cannabis-related convictions, as well as job applications from a BIPOC-owned cannabis business in New Jersey. We are continuing work around cannabis justice and getting more LGBTQ+ cannabis businesses at the forefront of the discussion through our anti-racist work.

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