Victoria’s independent police oversight body IBAC has appealed for information about Victoria Police officers allegedly sharing a photo of former AFL coach Dani Laidley with transphobic comments. The photo was taken covertly at the taken at the Geelong Racecourse last weekend.

“IBAC is asking any member of the public or police personnel who witnessed the photo being taken, or has information about the photo in a text message being sent or received, to contact IBAC,” the agency said in a statement.

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Victoria Police told Star Observer that it was “unaware” of the origin of a fresh photo of the former AFL coach being allegedly shared by its officers. 

Laidley Was Surreptitiously Photographed

The Age had reported on Wednesday about Laidley’s frustration at being surreptitiously photographed while attending the Ballan Cup at the Geelong Racecourse on November 6 and the alleged sharing of the photo by officers accompanied by transphobic messages. 

Last year, three Victoria police officers were charged with criminal offences over an alleged leak of Laidley’s photograph while she was in police custody. Earlier, this year, 11 police officers were ordered to pay Laidley between $500 and $3,000 over the leaking of the custodial photographs. Victoria Police had also said they would settle a case lodged by Laidley over the leaks. 

The alleged leaking of the new photo, days ahead of Transgender Day Of Remembrance, has once again focussed attention on the transphobia of some officers, according to LGBTQI rights advocates. 

Disappointed, Says Laidley

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“Victoria Police is unaware of the origin of the photo or any corresponding messages allegedly made by employees,” a police spokesperson told Star Observer. 

“Furthermore, we have not received any details of the members allegedly involved. If anyone has any complaints about police misconduct, we strongly encourage them to contact Professional Standards Command or via IBAC so it can be investigated,” the spokesperson added. 

Laidley said that she had had a great weekend in Geelong with her partner Donna and friend and former North Melbourne captain Anthony Stevens. She told The Age that it was very “disappointing” to find that the picture was widely shared by members of the Victoria police. 

It goes to show you how much education is still required to allow transgender people to live their lives without barriers,” Laidley said. 

Not The First Time Victoria Police Officer Leaked Laidley’s Photos

Laidley, a former North Melbourne coach and player, was arrested by the police on May 2, 2020, from outside a St Kilda home and was charged with stalking a woman. 

A day later, a mugshot as well as a photograph of Laidley dressed in a blond wig and dress, taken while she was in custody, were widely shared on social media and by some media organisations. 

Laidley, who had transitioned and informed the court that she identifies as a woman, pleaded guilty to the stalking charges in November 2020. The court  placed her on an adjourned undertaking of good behaviour for 18 months.

Subsequently, following an inquiry Victoria police charged three police officers – suspended Senior Constable Murray Gentner, a senior constable from the Southern Metro Region and a constable from the North West Metro Region – with unauthorised access of police information, unauthorised disclosure of police information and misconduct in public office.

‘Awful And Incredibly Upsetting’

LGBTQI rights advocates said that the fresh controversy surrounding a new photo of Laidley being shared by police officers reveals a “systemic failure”.

“Ahead of Trans Awareness Week beginning this Saturday, this is just so awful and incredibly upsetting,” Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby, posted on Twitter.

“After last year’s mistreatment of Ms Laidley, how can we look at this new behaviour from members of Victoria Police and not see this as a systemic failure within the organisation?” Nic Holas, Campaign Director, Cainge.org Australia asked on Twitter.

“Earlier this year I spoke with members of the Victoria Police, about its relationship with LGBTIQA+ communities. Some of them tried to tell me what happened to Ms Laidley was the work of a “few bad apples”. And now, this,” added Holas.

IBAC has asked anyone with information to contact the agency at [email protected] or 1300 735 135. Information can also be provided anonymously via IBAC’s website.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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