Chief Constable refuses to apologise for homophobia
Thousands of gay men arrested in West Midlands police witch-hunts
20 September 2022
“West Midlands police should not be allowed to march in uniform or with police banners at next Saturday’s Birmingham Pride parade, given that the Chief Constable has refused to apologise for the past persecution of the LGBT+ community. Until they apologise, the police are not welcome. No apology, no participation,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“Individual officers can march in plainclothes but not the force as an institution,” he added.
The Chief Constable has refused to apologise for his force’s historic homophobic victimisation.
Peter Tatchell wrote to Sir David Thompson requesting him to apologise: It is “time that you apologised for the past persecution of LGBT+ people by West Midlands police. Your force was one of the most homophobic in Britain. While you are not responsible for past wrongs, you are head of the force that witch-hunted us. I hope you will draw a line under that persecution by making an apology, so we can move forward together.”
The Chief Constable wrote back to Mr Tatchell declining to apologise: ”It is difficult of (sic) me to apologise for officers enforcing the law even if those offences today seem quite repugnant.”
The Chief Constable of West Midlands was previously confronted by Peter Tatchell and urged to apologise as he marched in the Birmingham Pride parade with his officers last year.
Photos of Peter Tatchell confronting the Chief Constable are available on request.
Mr Tatchell explained:
“An apology would not right the wrongs done to the men arrested but it would at least acknowledge that the law was wrong – not the men who were criminalised punished, stigmatised and vilified.
“Sir David apologised in 2020 to the black community for his force’s history of racism. So why can’t he apologise to the LGBT+ community?
“The Chief Constable of the Isle of Man has apologised, as have the UK government and police chiefs in Sydney, Berlin and New York. It is time the West Midlands followed suit.
“In the decades before the full decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2003, West Midlands officers arrested huge numbers of gay and bisexual men for consenting, victimless behaviour. They were one of the most zealously homophobic police forces in the country, with arrest figures above the national average.
“Upon conviction, gay men were often jailed and beaten up in prison. Others were hit with huge fines. Many lost their jobs, homes and marriages. Some were bashed by homophobic mobs, driven to mental breakdowns and even attempted suicide. With the stigma of a criminal conviction for a homosexual offence, a lot of the victims of police homophobia had great difficulty in getting jobs and housing. Their lives were ruined by the police,” said Mr Tatchell.
Copies of Mr Tatchell’s letter to the Chief Constable and his reply to Mr Tatchell are available on request.