And, we’re all homophobes…

Posted: 07/04/2012 in Barrister, Civil Rights, Police, Solicitor
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Met weren’t truly to fault for their own racist elements. Why? Because British society at large has racist elements and the structures which enforce the law lack the cultural knowledge to properly deal with racism.

The conclusion, we’re all at fault for racism.

And while I’m insulting us all, we’re a bunch of homophobes.

Pink public life

So while we’re recruiting secret racists to public positions, we’ll have a fair number of homophobes and a fair number of homosexuals.

Homophobia makes me mad, mostly because two of my best friends at school were gay. I knew they were gay and they were never able to say they were gay until they had left.

The school institution didn’t encourage them to show their own sexuality.

Then onto Oxford, probably one of the most gay friendly Universities in the country. Turns out, one of my best friends there too, didn’t feel he was able to come out.

It shouldn’t be so hard for people to be honest.

Closed society

I imagine, and wait to be corrected, that the Prison Service is the most LGBT friendly of the whole of the public sector. Prison officers proudly wear rainbow badges and on noticeboards all over there are LGBT related notices for prison officers and prisoners. How to make a complaint, who to talk to and so on.

If there’s a relative openness in the Prison Service then why can it not be replicated in other public services?

Well there seems no reason why not. I accept it is probably easier in a prison setting as they’re very closed and controlled societies. But, as I’ve experienced, they’re quite often too small societies where aggression and violence permeate.

Homophobic violence

I was reading Ethan Bourne’s article ‘Why can’t gay couples feel safe enough to hold hands everywhere in the UK?’. The answer he comes to is part of it is self-imposed, part of it is wider society.

I don’t think it’s self-imposed at all, unless you think self-preservation is a reason to justify such a step.

Again, from my personal experience. At 6th form, (and I was at a relatively liberal, middle class, mixed school), the one openly gay couple in school had the shit kicked out of them. No real action was taken and for the sake of self-preservation the two lads were told to tone it down.

Then in the university holidays, one of my best friends got gay bashed and robbed and I witnessed somebody else I vaguely knew being beaten up for being gay.

And when I witnessed that,oh yes, the police acted. Because there stood, FTD, Oxford law student, established gobshite, rampant liberal, ‘I say officer…’ and there followed me round up the witnesses and provide them all to the police.

And again, when we were up at Oxford we came across a couple of lads getting a licking one night, chased off their attackers, but they didn’t want to make a complaint, talk to the police or go to Court.

How do we make criminal justice more gay friendly?

Above @ethanbourneuk ‘s article on the Pink Times, the IPCC were advertising for a new commissioner. That’s certainly a move in the right direction. I don’t think though it would encourage more gay people to report homophobic crime.

With regard to the judiciary, they’re clearly an important element in encouraging inclusion. March of this year, California asked all its judges to complete a survey as to whether they were gay or straight, bi, trans. They didn’t do it as part of some sort of homo inquisition, but, instead to show the general population that their judiciary were to a degree representative. And I don’t think it would hurt doing something here either.

The Magistracy? Well, I simply reproduce this note of a Stonewall JP:

I applied to be a magistrate to put something back into my community.
 
The application process was rigorous (for good reason) and I was worried that the persistent questions about ‘anything in my background that might embarrass the bench’ were code for ‘Are you gay?’.  I need not have worried as I soon discovered that this was a standard question for everyone.
 
I’ve been sitting in court for over three years now and am looking forward to starting my training as a Chair.  I’ve never really made anything of being gay but nor have I ever felt the need to hide my sexuality.  My partner came to my ‘swearing in’ and chatted to the partners of my fellow new magistrates – we were there as a couple just like anyone else.  I have encountered inappropriate comments from others on the bench (but no more than elsewhere in life) but if it happens I just address it there and then.
 
As well as my regular sittings in court I’ve taken part in Magistrates in the Community, making presentations at local schools about my role.
 
I’d encourage anyone with a desire for public service to consider becoming a magistrate – but particularly those under 30.  At 31, I’m one of very few ‘youngsters’ on my bench!
 

As for the police? I don’t know what the problem is with victims of gay violence and the police. I’d be interested to hear a perspective from either side.

In terms of uniform, I’m not sure whether cops are allowed the flexibility of prison officers, in terms of pin badges and so on. They all went through a ‘help the heroes’phase.  If they are gay, I don’t know whether they are allowed to wear a rainbow pin? I don’t know if they would? As said – be interested to know a police insight in this.

And the bar/lawyers? Well you’ve heard, Oxford is a gay friendly university. The Bar is full of Oxbridge grads, so some gay barristers are out there. One thing which is notable though, is that whilst my gay solicitor mates are forever going to gay solicitor drinks etc, I haven’t heard of an equivalent for the Bar.

Walk down my street holding hands

The police, lawyers and judges are the only ones who can guarantee that Ethan and his partner can walk down the street safely holding hands. The fact that there are places where he can’t do so ought to be laughable.

What annoys me more, is that a writer in the Pink Times  has accepted that he may not be able to hold hands with his partner everywhere today. No, I’m sorry, there should not be a slow change, there should be a rapid one.

All of the players in the criminal justice system need to get pink friendly and quick.

FTD

Comments
  1. Steve says:

    Have spent 10 years in the Met and honestly believe it to be a broadly welcoming workplace. Many of my close friends are comfortably ‘out’ at work without issue. The pin badges are commonplace and LGBT liason officers wear theirs too.

    I think it’s even been named in Stonewall’s top 100 employers a few times.

    Seeing a gay couple holding hands on the tube earlier tonight made me feel proud that they felt safe to do so but at the same time slightly melancholy that in 2012 that is even a consideration.

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