International News

US Marine excused for killing trans woman

Rachel Badham September 13, 2020

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has ā€˜granted an absolute pardonā€™ to American Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton after he killed a transgender Filipino woman, Jennifer Laude, in 2014. Pemberton reportedly strangled Laude in Olangapo City after the pair checked into a local hotel together. Pemberton has only served half of his ten-year sentence.

In court he said he attacked Laude after ā€˜realising she was transgenderā€™ but claimed she was alive when he left the room. His words in court described gay/trans panic defence which attempts to legitimise violence against the LGBTQ+ community by using the victimā€™s gender identity or sexuality to excuse the perpetrator.

Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores told the Washington Times their client Pemberton was ā€˜very happyā€™ to receive the news, and the pardon would result in immediate prison release. Duterte addressed his move on television on Monday 7 September, saying Pemberton had been well behaved in prison and this was the ā€˜fairā€™ thing to do.

Filipino human rights group Karapatan condemned the release of Pemberton, saying it is ā€˜a despicable and shameless mockery of justiceā€™. They argued Duterteā€™s decision was him bowing to ā€˜imperialist interests of the USā€™ after the case caused tension between the two nations. #JusticeForJennifer has trended globally on Twitter. Site users tweeted Pemberton ā€˜deserves to rot in jail for lifeā€™ and have demanded ā€˜justice for all victims of hate crimes and imperialismā€™.