NSW GREENS MP Jenny Leong has called for an immediate response from Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione after it was revealed four openly gay police officers were allegedly discriminated against because of their sexuality.
Four police officers from the Newtown Local Area Command (LAC) were the target of an eight-man strike force to investigate alleged illicit drug use.
Christopher Sheehy, Shane Housego, Steven Rapisarda, and Christian McDonald – who has since left the force – were the officers at the centre of the investigation and have since been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW accepted individual complaints from all four men based on “homosexuality discrimination against the NSW Police Force”. The men also lodged an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to overturn a police decision to deny them access to the investigation file.
According to reports, McDonald was also on the receiving end of homophobic comments from his superior officers. When he fell and hit his head while working he was allegedly told, “you should be used to having your head down, arse up in the concrete”.
When McDonald requested leave to celebrate his wedding anniversary, a different superior officer said, “same sex marriage is not OK with me. It disgusts me”.
Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, who was the target of online trolling by members of Newtown’s LAC, said she was disturbed by the reports of these incidents and the blatantly homophobic and discriminatory language being used.
“The Newtown community is one that is known to celebrate difference and diversity – having this type of incident occur at our local area command is unacceptable,” she said.
“This is not the first time members of the NSW police have been accused of engaging in the type of offensive discriminatory behaviour that they should be protecting communities from. There is clearly an urgent need for cultural change.
“I commend the officers who have made the decision to speak out and take action against those who have targeted them. Exposing homophobia and discrimination in a workplace is an incredibly difficult thing to do and by doing so they have done our Newtown community and the LGBTI community a service.
“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Police Minister and Commissioner to find out what the police leadership will be doing to attempt to rebuild the trust of the Newtown and LGBTI communities across NSW.”
Honour Award nominated law firm Dowson Turco is representing the four men.