Met Police “sorry” for past LGBTQ+ witch-hunts

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Photo by Jerome Paronneau.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has said “sorry” to the LGBT+ community for his force’s past homophobic persecution.

He’s the first UK police chief to apologise.

Met Police “sorry” for homophobia

In a personal letter to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, which was read out in the House of Lords, at today’s (7 June 2023) launch of the #ApologiseNow campaign, Sir Mark wrote:

“The Met has had systems and processes in place which have led to bias and discrimination in the way we have policed London’s communities, and in the way we have treated our officers and staff, over many decades”, the Met Commissioner wrote in the letter.

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Full letter from Met Police to Peter Tatchell.

“Recent cases of appalling behaviour by some officers have revealed that there are still racists, misogynists, homophobes and transphobes in the organisation, and we have already doubled down on rooting out those who corrupt and abuse their position.”

Sir Mark Rowley concluded; “I am clear that there is much for us to do. I am sorry to all of the communities we have let down for the failings of the past and look forward to building a new Met for London, one all Londoners can be proud of and in which they can have confidence.”

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L to R: Andre Portasio (Paul O’Grady’s husband), Joan Marshrons (Paul’s manager), Supt James Rawlinson (Met Police), Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and Peter Tatchell.

LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who led negotiations for the Met’s apology, said: “We thank Sir Mark Rowley for being the first UK police chief to say sorry.

“His apology is a ground-breaking step forward that will, we hope, spur other police forces to follow suit. It draws a line under past Met persecution.

“This will help strengthen LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police; encouraging more LGBTs to report hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assault.”

As reported by Mediashotz on Tuesday, the launch of the #ApologiseNow campaign, which is bidding to secure apologies from all UK Chief Constables, was hosted by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and featured a video by the late TV star Paul O’Grady, recorded before his death.

In it, O’Grady urged the police to say sorry for the often abusive, and sometimes illegal, way they treated LGBT+ people.

The #ApologiseNow campaign is dedicated to O’Grady’s memory. His partner, Andre Portasio, and manager, Joan Marshrons, were present at today’s launch.

The #ApologiseNow!” campaign is organised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation and a petition is now live at ApologiseNow.com

Paul O’Grady backed the apology campaign based on his personal experience of police victimisation.

He was present during a police raid on the gay bar, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London, on 24 January 1987. He described the raid as “homophobic…we were being treated like animals.”