Victoria cops sorry for gay discrimination
VICTORIA Police has caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm to the LGBTI community and for that, the state's top police officer says he is sorry.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton formally apologised to the community, as well as to gay and lesbian police officers, for the enforcement of now-repealed anti-gay laws at a dedicated event on Monday.
"We are sorry for that harm that you experienced. We can't turn back the clock and repair what happened then but we can certainly march from today into the future," he said.
Laws which made homosexuality a crime punishable by jail were repealed in the 1980s but it was decades before criminal records against many men were expunged.
Terry Kennedy was one of those caught up in the historical police crackdown on gay Victorians.
"When I was 18, I was arrested by Victoria Police on a charge of gross indecency, in fact two charges," he said in a video recorded by Victoria Police.
"At that I was in a car at Richmond Boulevard with a friend ... And our car was one of perhaps 20 parked along the boulevard. It was a popular place for people to meet, and to have sex.
"A torch shone through the window ... and that began a very traumatic experience for me."
Mr Ashton said the force had made a lot of progress in its relationship with the LGBTI community but this was not enough and acknowledged the "really terrible behaviours" gay and lesbian police had been subject to at work.
Mr Ashton's comments come months after a report showing homophobic and transphobic threats, jokes and banter often went unchallenged within the force.
Police have also come under fire for a botched arrest outside a gay Melbourne bookshop, which left an innocent man with a broken arm after he was mistaken for a carjacker.
Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog is investigating the May raid on Nik Dimopoulos' flat, attached to the bookstore, where it's alleged police failed to identify themselves.
Mr Ashton on Monday said the incident highlighted the fragile relationship between the LGBTI community and police.
"You like to think you have a lot of capital built up in the community because of what you have invested and done, but it's a very fragile capital," he said.
"When something happens it can upset that very quickly."