HRW.org Donate! Default

Out in the Night

One hot August night in 2006, in New York's Greenwich Village, a group of young African-American lesbian friends are violently and sexually threatened by an older man. They defend themselves and a fight begins that draws in strangers on the street. It ends quickly, and all involved walk away until the man realizes he has been stabbed. The women are charged with gang assault, a serious felony. The media labels them a "Gang of Killer Lesbians" and the man an "admirer." Three of the friends plead guilty and are released but four continue to fight, claiming self-defense. Out in the Night uncovers how their lives leading up to that night compelled these young women to defend themselves. Through this act, and their audacity to claim innocence in the courtroom, these young women became known as The New Jersey 4.

Violence perpetrated against LGBT people with impunity is an endemic problem across the globe and includes murder, assault, rape, and threats. Human Rights Watch has documented violence perpetrated against lesbians and transgender men in South Africa and the failure of the criminal justice system to deal effectively with these crimes. In Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch documented routine violence that state officials have meted out with impunity against gay men. In Russia, Human Rights Watch has shown how the insidious anti-propaganda law has led to a sharp increase in violent attacks on LGBT people and a lack of police action against the perpetrators.