The gay leather community has hit back at Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland’s remarks last week suggesting ‘swinging’ is a risky lifestyle choice.
Overland’s comments followed the recent sentencing of a Melbourne couple for the manslaughter of millionaire businessman Herman Rockefeller in January, who the couple met through a magazine for swingers.
Overland was quoted in the Herald Sun last Friday saying people need to be responsible for engaging in “behaviour that puts themselves at risk”.
“It does seem to me that that sort of behaviour brings with it all sorts of risks and people really need to think very, very carefully about that sort of activity before they engage in it,” Overland said.
ALSO Foundation CEO Crusader Hillis said Overland should “stick to policing and stop moralising”, saying his comments could alienate sections of the community engaging in legal sexual activity.
“His comments … go well beyond his role as Police Commissioner and sends a negative message to all people operating outside traditional heterosexual roles,” Hillis said.
“Rather than castigating adults for engaging in lawful sexual behaviour, no matter what his own moral beliefs might be, Overland should be promoting safe, sane and consensual behaviours amongst sexually active adults.”
Hillis said the swingers, pansexual and fetish communities had been operating in a well controlled manner for decades.
“Establishments and private homes that operate as swinging parties are usually highly responsible in terms of safe sex, respect, consent and concern for people’s comfort and safety around agreed sexual activity,” he said.
Melbourne Leather Pride director Alex Schoeffel said Victoria Police should embrace the diversity of the entire GLBT community, however, he took a further swipe at Overland, saying the Police Commissioner had “snubbed” the leather and fetish community.
“It is time that the Victoria Police embraced the LGBT community in its entirety by understanding its diverse communities, including the leather, kink and Bear communities,” Schoeffel said.
“Every part of the LGBT community needs to be comfortable with the police.”
In a media statement, Schoeffel claimed Overland had refused to send a message of support for the most recent Melbourne Leather Pride festival because he believed supporting the annual Pride March in St Kilda was a better PR opportunity and feared a conservative backlash.
A Victoria Police media spokesman refuted Schoeffel’s claims, describing them as offensive and said Overland had chosen to support Pride March which also encompasses the leather community.
“Victoria Police supports and endorses everyone’s right to come together and celebrate unity safely and without prejudice,” the spokesman told Southern Star Observer.
“Mr Overland is serious about GLBTI issues and to suggest that it is just a public relations exercise is offensive.
“Mr Schoeffel has every right to contact media outlets but negative comments may be damaging to the relationship built up between police and GLBTI communities.”