Appeal to Chief Constable ahead of Birmingham Pride 27 May
London / Birmingham, UK – 2 May 2023
The West Midlands Police is being urged to apologise for its past witch-hunting of the LGBT+ community ahead of Birmingham Pride on 27 May.
The call comes in a letter to the Chief Constable, Craig Guildford, from the veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell. Copy below.
”The West Midlands force was one of the most homophobic in Britain and went out of its way to target consenting, victimless behaviour that harmed no one. It wrecked the lives of thousands of LGBT+ people,” said Mr Tatchell.
“The former Chief Constable apologised in 2020 to the black community for the history of racism by its officers. This apology was well received and strengthened the case for a similar apology to the LGBT+ community.
“I hope a formal apology will be made to the LGBT+ community ahead of the upcoming Birmingham Pride on 27 May. It would help further improve LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police, which is what we all want,” said Mr Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Peter Tatchell’s letter to West Midland’s Chief Constable:
Chief Constable, West Midlands Police
Dear Craig Guildford,
Congratulations on your appointment as Chief Constable of the West Midlands.
My gratitude to you and your officers for your supportive policies towards the LGBT+ community. It is great progress.
However, in order to draw a line under the past extreme persecution of LGBT+ people by West Midlands police, I hope that you will agree that some expression of remorse is appropriate.
Your force was for many decades one of the most homophobic in Britain, devoting huge and disproportionate resources to hunt down LGBT+ people for consenting behaviour that harmed no one.
While you are not responsible for past wrongs, you are head of the force that witch-hunted us and wrecked LGBT+ lives. I would respectfully request you to put the past behind us by making an apology to the LGBT+ community, so we can move forward together.
I note with gratitude that your predecessor, Sir David Thompson, apologised in 2020 to the black community for the history of racism by the West Midlands police.
I hope that you’ll also recognise the merit and importance of an apology to the LGBT+ community. It would help further improve LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police, which is what we all want.
In the decades before the full decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2003, West Midlands officers went out of their way to target and arrest thousands 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 way above the national average.
Your force had a vindictive policy of releasing the names, addresses and workplaces of arrested men to the media, which led to public humiliation, ostracism, evictions, sackings and even violent attack.
Upon conviction, these men were often jailed and beaten 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 attempted or committed 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.
I hope you might consider a formal apology to the LGBT+ community, ahead of the upcoming Birmingham Pride on 27 May.
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation