Earlier today human rights organizations gathered on the steps of City Hall to urge the New York state legislature to pass a bill that would ban the use of condoms as evidence at trial in all cases, including human trafficking. "The human trafficking element is important," Mitchyll Mora, a worker at Streetwise and Safe explained, noting that pimps and sex traffickers are afraid to distribute condoms to their sex workers for fear that they'd turn up as evidence against them. "The law would protect the safety of the workers."

Last week Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes informed NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly that he would no longer accept condoms as evidence at trial in prostitution cases, and his counterparts in Manhattan and Queens have expressed a similar sentiment. But the DAs—including Hynes—said they would continue to see condoms as potential evidence in sex trafficking cases.

"Condoms save lives," Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a member of the City Council's LGBT caucus, said at today's rally. "No assumptions should ever be made about anyone who carries condoms."

But according to a troubling study conducted by Human Rights Watch, as well as many accounts from members of New York's LGBT community, those assumptions begin to form as soon as police size up a person for a potential stop.

"A variety of LGBT youth, especially people of color, are assumed by the police to have deviant behavior. Or police see young transgender people and think they're sexually deviant, and they're profiled and stopped," Mora said. "I've worked with women who identify as butch who are stopped by the police and the cops will see their condoms and say, 'What do you need condoms for? You're dykes.' It's a lot about profiling."

The assembly bill, sponsored by Queens Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, was referred to the codes committee in January. The senate bill, sponsored by Brooklyn Senator Velmanette Montgomery, has sat in the rules committee since last year. A City Council resolution supporting the bills has yet to pass.

"I guarantee you," Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin said to cheers, "We will get this bill passed. We will not criminalize people for protecting themselves."