Barack Obama demanded security remove an immigration activist who heckled him as he spoke at a Pride Month Reception in the White House on Wednesday.
The woman was later widely identified in reports as Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented transgender immigrant who helped founded the FAMILIA group which advocates for LGBTQ migrants. Ms Gutiérrez had been trying to raise concerns about abuse of transgender people in immigration centres.
In a video of the incident the president is seen wagging his finger and saying "no, no, no... you're in my house. It's not respectful. You're not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this". As the room booed and began to chant "Obama" he added "shame on you... can we have this person removed please?" .
"The White House gets to make the decision whether it keeps us safe," Gutiérrez said according to a press release published by GetEQUAL, an LGBTQ group. "There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country. If the president wants to celebrate with us, he should release the LGBTQ immigrants locked up in detention centres immediately."
In a further statement to Mic News and tweeted by GetEQUAL, she said:
As I reflect on what just happened at the White House, I am outraged at the lack of leadership that Obama demonstrated. He had no concern for the way that LGBTQ detainees are suffering. As a trans woman, the misgendering and the physical and sexual abuse - these are serious crimes that we fact in detention centres. How can that be ignored? It's heart breaking to see the LGBTQ community I am part of turning their back on me, and the LGBTQ people in detention centres: how can they tolerate that kind of abuse?
In 2014 an investigation by Fusion found US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detain 75 prisoners a night, and often lock up trans women alongside men. The investigation found that transgender immigrants are the victims of a disproportionate number of sexual assaults in detention: they make up one in every 500 detainees but account for one in five confirmed abuse cases.