He is only the fifth UK police chief to do so, following a similar apology by the heads of the Metropolitan, City of London, Sussex and South Yorkshire forces.
The campaign, #ApologiseNow, was launched by human rights activist Peter Tatchell and was backed by the comedian and TV presenter Paul O’Grady before his death.
Lincolnshire Police apology
Responding to an appeal for an apology by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Chris Haward said: “Lincoln Pride is a fantastic community event, and I’m really pleased to have seen so many of our officers and staff engaging in the way they did.
“This can only help to build the trust and confidence our LGBTQ+ communities have in us and show that Lincolnshire Police are here to support them and keep them safe.
“I do expect my officers and staff to engage with people in such a positive celebration and to show our human side, behind the uniform, to help build strong relationships for the future.
“This will help to restore trust and confidence that has been affected by past injustices and inequity due to historical laws, policies and processes not always being used correctly.
“As Chief Constable I am sorry our LGBTQ+ communities have been disproportionately affected in this way and there is no doubt this has damaged their trust in the police.
“I want to make sure we move forward in a positive way and deliver a service that is reflective and inclusive of all the communities we serve, treating everyone fairly, with respect, to ensure they are protected from discrimination.”
Peter Tatchell today responded with praise for the Chief Constable’s statement: “It is a forthright, generous apology that comes across as passionate and genuine.
“Some people in power find it hard to say sorry for past wrongs. Chris Haward didn’t hesitate. That marks him out as a commendable police chief. We thank him.
“This apology does the Lincolnshire police proud and will win much appreciation and praise from the LGBT+ community.
“Having drawn a line under past police homophobia, I hope this will boost LGBT+ confidence in the police and encourage more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
The Peter Tatchell Foundation is asking every Chief Constable in the UK to say sorry for past homophobic persecution.
The #ApologiseNow petition is now live at ApologiseNow.com
“Other police services across the UK are currently engaging with the #ApologiseNow campaign, but as discussions are on-going we will not be naming them”, said Tatchell.