'Walking while trans' law repealed in NY; anti-loitering measure targeted transgender people, critics said

ALBANY, New York (WABC) -- A New York state law from the 1970s aimed at curbing prostitution but that critics said had been enforced discriminatorily, particularly against transgender women of color, was repealed Tuesday.

The measure passed in both chambers of the state Legislature and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The original 1976 law penalized loitering for the purpose of prostitution. But opponents said it was vague, and its enforcement used as a method of harassment and profiling.

The repeal legislation noted that between 2012 and 2015, 85% of the arrests under the law were Black or Latina people.

"This outdated, discriminatory statute has led to hundreds of unnecessary arrests of transgender women of color and a broader culture of fear and intimidation for transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers," state Sen. Brad Hoylman said in a statement celebrating the repeal.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said, "Repealing the archaic 'walking while trans' ban is a critical step toward reforming our policing system and reducing the harassment and criminalization transgender people face simply for being themselves."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Lauren Glassberg reports on the stories of people who stayed in the closet, some for many decades.

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