A former police officer has written to Police Minister David Campbell about the frustrations of homophobia within the force.
“I joined the NSW Police in December 2003 with the hope of serving the community to the best of my ability, and to one day serve as a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer,” Dallas McCarthy told SSO.
McCarthy came from a police family, but said his career was tarnished after being subjected to “old school policing” that labelled Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers as “rock spiders” – a colloquial term for pedophiles. He resigned in April last year.
“As a gay male, I can tell you I faced homophobic intimidation and bullying when I was in the police service,” McCarthy wrote to Campbell.
“I know and understand the frustration the gay and lesbian community feels, and some of the stories I read about, I know for a fact they are not exaggerated.”
In his original complaint while still in uniform, McCarthy alleged he was abused and harassed by senior officers because they assumed he was gay.
He was told by a sergeant at Cabramatta to introduce himself as “pillowbiter” when meeting chief inspectors, and asked if his boyfriend had given him a new pillow for Valentine’s Day.
Because of the culture of rank, junior officers would also participate in the harassment, McCarthy said.
Animal tissue, dried blood and notes with the words “poofta boy” and “fag dog” were found in his pigeonhole, but the investigation was never followed up.
“Police refused to speak to me. However, comments were being made around me ‘GLLOs are all rock spiders’ and the sergeant had stopped speaking to me,” he said.
Later he was able to obtain a transfer to Bankstown, believed to be after intervention by the GLLO coordinator, and chose to come out on his own.
But the stigma of the chequered personnel record was reopened by a new senior officer after a change of management early last year, and he chose to resign.
McCarthy said he was worried about some of the gay and lesbian officers he knew who are still in the force.
“I wonder when things will actually change, when senior management of the police cease to worry about budgets more than they do issues within their local area commands,” he said.
“The homophobic culture of the police service is one that is changing. However, it is changing too slowly and the community is suffering.”