The Australian police force in the state of Victoria has made a formal apology to the rainbow community for its historical enforcement of former anti-gay laws that had outlawed consensual sex between adult males in the state.
The apology which was made by Police Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton, was given during an event that marked the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Victoria Police LGBTI portfolio reference group.
“I am sorry to everyone in the community who did not receive the support and service they should have, who were concerned for their own safety and wellbeing, and who as Victoria Police employees could not be their authentic selves at work,” Ashton explained to the crowd.
“There have clearly been times when police actions caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm – to the community and to our own people.”
The Police Chief Commissioner added that the 20th-anniversary milestone highlighted the commitment Victoria Police had made in earning back the trust and confidence of the rainbow community.
“I am extremely proud of the journey we have taken and the progress we have made,” Ashton stated, “But I acknowledge that there have been times in our history with the LGBTQI community when Victoria Police has fallen short of the expectations that the community rightly puts upon us. I have had the opportunity to hear many of these experiences first hand.”
“We’ve been doing a great deal to enhance the mutual trust between the LGBTI community and police,” Ashton said before concluding that while progress has been made, as a police force their work “is not complete.”
“We are committed to becoming an organisation that reflects the entire community, and one that firmly rejects homophobia, transphobia, and other types of prejudice.”