LGBT survey reveals high police distrust

·3-min read

Four out of five LGBTIQA+ Victorians do not trust police to use their powers reasonably and half don't trust them with their personal information, a survey has found.

The Victorian Pride Lobby polled 1500 members of the state's LGBTIQA+ community and found two out of three felt they were treated unfairly by police.

About 80 per cent said they did not feel safe when there was a large police presence at LGBTIQA+ events.

Four out of five said police did not understand the issues that impacted them, while about 60 per cent said police did not respect them.

Three out of four do not want Victoria Police marching in uniform at the state's Pride March, which rose to nine in 10 among those who identify as trans and gender diverse.

The lobby said a historic legacy of experiencing discrimination and violence at the hands of police still loomed large for LGBTIQA+ people.

But it also found high-profile incidents in recent years, including when former AFL coach Dani Laidley's privacy was breached by police, had further eroded trust and confidence in authorities.

The lobby says any lack of trust between police and LGBTIQA+ community has harmful and far-reaching consequences, including people feeling discouraged from reporting crimes, which is problematic for a community that experiences higher levels of victimisation.

"Victims sometimes fear they may not be taken seriously or will be treated prejudicially," the report said.

Victorian Pride Lobby co-convenor Devina Potter called on Victoria Police to make "attitudinal and systemic" changes to address the community's concerns.

"Victoria's LGBTIQA+ communities have experienced decades of harmful policing in this state, including several high profile and fraught incidents in recent years," she said.

"Because of this, LGBTIQA+ people are discouraged from reaching out to the police when they experience vilification, harassment or abuse, for fear they may not be taken seriously or will be treated prejudicially."

She said this is particularly the case for those with intersecting identities including First Nations and trans people.

The lobby says there are "formidable but not insurmountable" obstacles to improving the community's relationship with police and made 16 recommendations.

These include calls for the state government to fund a permanent, "community-controlled" LGBTIQA+ legal service and for Victoria Police to improve its data recording and reporting around prejudice-motivated crime.

It recommended the organisation's LGBTI training be made compulsory, starting with managers, and that the course include trans and gender diverse modules.

Allegations of police misconduct should be investigated by IBAC, not Victoria Police themselves, the lobby said.

Further, police should review their feedback and complaints mechanisms and ensure liaison officers follow up reports from the LGBTIQA+ community.

AAP understands Victoria Police will hold a town hall-style meeting with the LGBTIQA+ community in December to address concerns and identify engagement gaps.

Deputy police commissioner Neil Paterson said he recently met with the lobby to discuss their concerns, and was committed to rectifying past wrongdoings.

He said the force's LGBTIQ liaison officers "work tirelessly to enhance the mutual trust and respect between LGBTIQ communities and police" and police will work with stakeholders to "build strong relationships" with the LGBTIQA+ community.

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