Challenged to apologise for his force’s past homophobia
Thousands were arrested in anti-gay witch-hunts 1950-2000
London, UK – 27 September 2021
The Chief Constable of West Midlands was confronted by LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell as he marched in the Birmingham Pride parade with his officers on Saturday, 25 September 2021.
Peter Tatchell told the Chief Constable Sir David Thompson:
“Thank you for marching with us. You are welcome. But is time that you apologised for the past persecution of LGBT+ people by West Midlands police. Your force was one of the most homophobic in Britain. While you are not responsible for past wrongs, you are head of the force that witch-hunted us. I hope you will draw a line under that persecution by making an apology, so we can move forward together.”
Sir David responded: “If you get on touch with my office, I will look at the issue.”
Mr Tatchell today explained:
“Sir David apologised in 2020 to the black community for his force’s history of racism. He seems a decent officer. I am hopeful that he’ll recognise the symbolic importance of an apology. It would help further improve LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police.
“In the decades before the full decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2003, West Midlands officers arrested thousands of gay and bisexual men for consenting, victimless behaviour. They were one of the most zealously homophobic police forces in the country, with arrest figures way above the national average.
“Upon conviction, gay men were often jailed and beaten up in prison. Others were hit with huge fines. Many lost their jobs, homes and marriages. Some were bashed by homophobic mobs, driven to mental breakdowns and even attempted suicide. With the stigma of a criminal conviction for a homosexual offence, a lot of the victims of police homophobia had great difficulty in getting jobs and housing. Their lives were ruined by the police,” said Mr Tatchell.