Chief Constable misses the point & shows contempt for LGBTs
Birmingham – 1 June 2023
The West Midlands Police will not apologise for its past homophobic witch-hunts.
In a letter just received, the Chief Constable told the Peter Tatchell Foundation that it only enforced the law and “decline your invitation to make a formal apology.”
The Chief Constable, Craig Guildford, wrote: “The role of the police is to apply the laws made by politicians who you and I elect as citizens of this country without fear of favour.”
Peter Tatchell said: “The Chief Constable is being disingenuous. We did not ask the police to say sorry for enforcing the law. Our request was for an apology for the often illegal and abusive way they enforced anti-gay legislation. In the past, his force went way beyond merely applying the law. It waged an unjustifiable vicious witch-hunt against the LGBT+ community.
“Officers disparaged LGBTs as ‘poofs’ and ‘queers’. They gave the names and addresses of arrested gay men to local papers, which led to them sacked and violently assaulted. They arrested men for mere kissing and dancing together, which was not against the law. Officers also tried to shut down gay bars and clubs and harassed LGBTs leaving gay venues, pushing, shoving and insulting them with homophobic epithets.”
“The excessive, over-zealous, homophobic and downright nasty way the police enforced the law wrecked the lives of thousands of LGBT+ people over the decades.”
“The West Midlands force was one of the most homophobic in Britain. It went out of its way to target consenting, victimless behaviour that harmed no one in a shameful, cynical bid to boost its arrest and conviction rates,” said Mr Tatchell.
West Midlands police were asked to apologise as part of the nationwide #ApologiseNow campaign being launched on 7 June at the House of Lords by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, with Baroness Helena Kennedy KC.
The Chief Constable, Craig Guildford, only finally responded to the campaign after being sent multiple letters and emails, including putting a hard copy of Peter Tatchell’s apology request into his hand at Birmingham Pride on 27 May.
The former West Midland’s Chief Constable, Sir David Thompson, apologised in 2020 to the black community for the history of racism by its officers. This apology was applauded. It strengthens the case for a similar apology to the LGBT+ community.
“A formal apology would draw a line under past homophobic persecution and help improve LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police to report hate crime, domestic abuse and sexual assault, which is what we all want,” said Mr Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.