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Supporting the state apology to LGBTI communities

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Today I attended an apology from the Premier on behalf of the Victorian State Government to members of LGBTI communities for historic laws which criminalised homosexual acts.

The apology means a great deal to Victoria’s LGBTI communities. It is an acknowledgement that as a society, we got it wrong. That people were unfairly singled out, isolated and persecuted for simply being and expressing who they are.

Legislation outlawing homosexual activity had a huge impact on LGBTI communities. Those with convictions were shamed and left with criminal records that affected their chances of employment, travel and other civil liberties.

Victoria Police supports the expungement of homosexual convictions because it is the right and just thing to do.

As police, we have come a long way in our relationship with LGBTI communities. In 2014, we issued an apology for the raids on the Tasty Nightclub which acknowledged the harm caused to our relationship with LGBTI communities.

 

I am proud of the progress we have made in recognising and celebrating the diversity of gender and sexuality within our community, as well as within our own ranks. Victoria Police proudly participates in the Pride in Diversity network. This year more than 130 of our employees marched in the annual Pride March and I was honoured to lead the contingent.

 

But I acknowledge that we still have a way to go. Our role in enforcing laws against homosexuality has, understandably, left some people in the community with a lingering mistrust of police.

 

On this historic day, I want to reaffirm our commitment to treating all members of the community, regardless of sexual orientation, with the dignity and respect they deserve.

 

I want LGBTI communities to have faith that if they come to police to report a crime, it will be taken seriously and any complaints will be treated respectfully.

 

I want all members of the community to have a positive experience of police whether they approach us for help, see us in the street, or indeed work within our ranks or aspire to do so.

 

Today is about acknowledging the wrongs of the past, but I am looking forward to a future of continued growth and strength in our relationship with LGBTI communities.