In an announcement which should surprise noone, the Gay Police Association has announced the level of homophobia within the police to be rising. Last year 7,000 incidents were reported, probably an underestimation. “Any form of homophobia has no place in the police,” says the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead officer on sexual orientation. Is that right? Well maybe you should have a look at the brutish, backward thugs you recruit then, rather than giving out platitudes like it’s a “complicated matter for managers to deal with”. If the majority of the police really are brutish and backward, how on earth can there be an incentive for decent, tolerant people from any background to join?
We’re supposed to think of the Metropolitan Police in particular as institutionally racist, following the Stephen Lawrence saga. Of course it is and remains so, but what about institutionally homophobic? The truth is of course it is, root and branch – look at Johann Hari’s examples. And despite New Labour’s laws prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in the workplace, their simultaneous law allowing ‘religious rights’ seem to have caused the former to be trumped by the latter in the police. The GPA, both quantitatively and qualitatively suggest this is going on and getting worse. And some of us have no faith whatsoever that it’s going to get any better. It’s pointless saying, exactly as in dealing with institutional racism, that racist or homophobic presumptions have to stop, if the people making them are racist or homophobic. Some forces do seem to be understanding and getting around this through, through new recruitment and working policies. The Met though? Long way off. Working together for a safer London? I don’t think so.