Gay Police Come Out To Put End To Homophobia

Scottish PoliceSCOTLAND – More than 20 police officers in Lothian and Borders revealed they were lesbian, gay or bisexual in a survey hailed today as a powerful weapon against homophobia in the ranks.
The force has pioneered a programme of “sexual orientation monitoring” in a bid to combat discrimination.
The Gay Police Association said the findings showed officers were willing to be open about their sexuality despite fears that it could damage their careers.
The association also believes the results will encourage more members of the gay community to join the police.
Almost half of all officers replied to the voluntary survey after being promised their personal details would remain strictly confidential.
Every officer, special constable and support staff worker was asked to provide information to give an insight into the sexual make-up of the police.
Fourteen of the force’s 2819 officers admitted that they were gay or lesbian while 11 said they were bisexual.
Among support staff, who total 1211 employees, 11 said they were gay or lesbian and another seven said they were bisexual.
Inspector David Lyle, an officer with Lothian and Borders Police and Scottish co-ordinator for the Gay Police Association, believes as many as 1600 of Scotland’s 15,000 officers are gay or bisexual, but that the majority keep their sexuality secret.
Insp Lyle said: “This survey shows officers feel comfortable about being gay or bisexual in the force. That sends out a powerful message and hopefully will show people considering joining up that your sexuality is not a barrier.”
The questionnaire did not request any information that could identify an employee and the anonymous forms were processed by computer.
But despite this, 53.5 per cent decided not to respond to the survey. Another 39.1 per cent said they were heterosexual, while a further 6.4 per cent replied that they chose not to say.
Keith Cowan, from Edinburgh’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Safety Forum, said the force did not yet reflect sexual diversity in society but was “getting there”. He added: “In some ways the figures are meaningless. What we need to know is, are gay officers being promoted? People want to know that they have a police force which reflects their society.”
Calum Irving, spokesman for gay campaign group Stonewall Scotland, said: “Lothian and Borders Police are doing sufficiently in recruiting lesbian and gay people to the force. The chief constable makes it clear in what he says and does that the force does not have any barriers to lesbian and gay officers. They have been working to build confidence.
“They also take the area of diversity training very seriously in making their officers aware of different sections of society.”
David Grady, chairman of the Lothian and Borders branch of the Scottish Police Federation, said his body supported the survey. He added: “Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins has been a champion of diversity since his appointment and this survey reflects that.
“There was no pressure placed on staff to respond to the survey but the fact that so many felt comfortable to do so shows that there is a real confidence which might not have been there in the past.”
A police spokeswoman said that Lothian and Borders was the first force in Scotland to survey staff on their sexuality. She said:
“We can also identify that our systems are fair by assessing the number of minority groups represented in promoted posts.”
from The Scotsman

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