Activists and human rights organisations are calling for LGBTQI sensitivity training for the police in the aftermath of the leakage of photos of arrested AFL coach Dean Laidley.

The Victoria Police took immediate action following the photo leaks and suspended a senior constable with pay while launching a Professional Standards Command investigation into the incident. Trans advocates have called for a probe into the accusations that transphobia was a motivating factor behind the leakage.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) in a press statement said that it was not clear whether Laidley identifies as trans or gender diverse, but the alleged act of leaking the photos had sent out a negative message to the community.

“In this case, the act of the police officer in question is particularly dangerous in circumstances where the trans and gender diverse community already has a troubled relationship with the police, and yet relies on the police for that community’s safety,” said Kerry Weste, President of ALHR. The organisation has asked the police to reassure the trans and gender diverse communities about their safety and use this opportunity to train police personnel.

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has echoed the sentiments and sought a probe into the underlying cultural issues that allowed such a breach of privacy to happen in the first place. Commissioner Kristen Hilton commended the Victoria Police for trying to transform its relationship with the LGBTQI communities in the past years but asked them for a stronger and collaborative approach.

The Commission cited its  ‘Proud, visible, safe’ report on the experiences of LGBTQI employees within the Victoria Police. The report released in May 2019,  “identified a hypermasculine and heteronormative culture that normalises transphobic and homophobic attitudes and feeds constrictive stereotypes about LGBTQI employees.” The commission recommended a “holistic approach to effect real organisational change – combining clear pathways for reporting workplace harm, training for staff and managers on the impact of workplace harm, and a shared vision for workplace culture.”

The International Commission of Jurists Victoria said that Victoria Police has to go beyond the professional standards investigation. “ICJ Victoria urges a further independent review of TGD policies and procedures within Victoria Police, and (implement) sensitivity and human rights training throughout its police force,” the organisation said.

Martine Delaney, Veteran transgender advocate, and just.equal spokesperson had also called on all Australian police services “to implement nationally-consistent and high-standard training for police in transgender issues.

Laidley (53), a former North Melbourne coach was arrested on Saturday night from outside a home in St Kilda and charged with offenses including those related to stalking. The photo of Laidley dressed in a blonde wig and a dress and a mugshot were leaked and published in the media, inviting accusations of transphobia.

Victoria Police has appointed one full time lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer liaison officers (GLLOs) and 230 portfolio GLLOs across the state, according to its website.

 

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