Victoria’s Police Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton, has formally apologised to the LGBTQI community for the enforcement of now-repealed anti-gay laws that outlawed consensual sex between adult males in the state.
“I am sorry to everyone in the community who did not receive the support and service they should have, who were concerned for their own safety and wellbeing, [and] who as Victoria Police employees could not be their authentic selves at work,” Ashton said.
“There have clearly been times when police actions caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm – to the community and to our own people.”
The apology was made at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Victoria Police LGBTI portfolio reference group on August 19.
Ashton said the milestone was illustrative of the commitment Victoria Police had made to earning the trust and confidence of the LGBTQI community over the last two decades.
“I am extremely proud of the journey we have taken and the progress we have made,” Ashton said, “But I acknowledge that there have been times in our history with the LGBTQI community when Victoria Police has fallen short of the expectations that the community rightly puts upon us”
“I have had the opportunity to hear many of these experiences first hand.”
Victoria Police say they have taken a number of critical steps to strengthen relationships and rebuild trust with the LGBTQI community – including their annual participation in Midsumma and establishment of a network of more than 370 Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) working across the police force.
“We’ve been doing a great deal to enhance the mutual trust between the LGBTI community and police,” Ashton said.
“This work is not complete and we are committed to becoming an organisation that reflects the entire community, and one that firmly rejects homophobia, transphobia, and other types of prejudice.”