Merseyside police apologise to LGBTs for past witch-hunts

Twenty UK police forces have now said to sorry & enacted new LGBT+ policies

This is more police apologies than any other country in the world

6 June 2024


Merseyside’s Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy, has made a formal apology to the LGBT+ community, acknowledging past homophobic witch-hunts and discriminatory law enforcement.

In a letter to LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell, Kennedy expressed regret for the harm caused by the often-abusive way the police enforced historic anti-LGBT+ laws.

She wrote:

“It has been a deeply humbling experience to consider in-depth our past mistakes, particularly by an organisation I am so incredibly proud of today.

“I now have an informed understanding of the harm that has been caused over the years and I wanted to apologise on behalf of Merseyside Police, for our historic mistreatment of our LGBTQ+ communities and our homophobic application of the legislation in place at the time, which was wrongly used to proactively target members of the LGBTQ+ community, in particular gay and bi-sexual men.

“This ruined lives as it had a lasting negative impact on those who were targeted. As a result of the overuse of that legislation members of that community didn’t feel they could be open to be who they were, or about the people they loved, for fear they would be arrested and sent to prison.”

Chief Constable Kennedy added:

“I know I cannot change the past and it saddens me greatly to think that our historic actions have diminished trust in Merseyside Police and led to feelings of injustice that persist for some today.”

Kennedy is one of twenty UK police chiefs who have now apologised, following similar apologies by the heads of the Metropolitan, City of London, Sussex, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Gwent, Avon & Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, West Mercia, North Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Merseyside, Northumbria, Wiltshire, Police Scotland and Nottinghamshire forces.

Her apology is in response to the #ApologiseNow campaign initiated by the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The campaign was backed by comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady before his untimely passing.

Peter Tatchell expressed gratitude for Serena Kennedy’s apology:

“My immense gratitude to Serena Kennedy for her forthright apology to the LGBT+ community on behalf of Merseyside police – and for the new positive, supportive and inclusive LGBT+ policies she set out in her letter to me. 

“Some people in power find it hard to say sorry for past wrongs. Chief Kennedy didn’t hesitate or evade the need for a clear apology. That marks her out as a commendable police chief. We thank her and her officers.  

“This apology does the Merseyside police proud and will win much appreciation and praise from the LGBT+ community. It will go a long way towards securing a more constructive, collaborative relationship between Merseyside police and LGBT+ people – further building trust and cooperation. 

“What particularly impresses us is not just the apology but the LGBT+ Action Plan, which will further protect LGBTs and enhance community relations going forward.

“Saying sorry helps draw a line under past police homophobia. It’s a laudable continuation of the great work the Merseyside police have been doing in recent years. I hope it will inspire more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assaults, which is what we all want,” said Mr Tatchell.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation continues to urge every Chief Constable in the UK to apologise for their force’s historic homophobic persecution in decades past. We continue to chase the remaining 25 police forces that have not said sorry.

The #ApologiseNow petition can be read and signed at