The majority of LGBTIQA+ people feel disrespected and unsafe around Victoria Police, according to a new report.
In Upholding our rights: LGBTIQA+ attitudes towards policing in Victoria, the Victorian Pride Lobby has reported on a recent survey of 1,500 LGBTIQA+ people.
Among the respondents, 4 in 5 did not think the police understood the issues that impacted them, and 3 in 5 believed police did not respect them.
Two thirds believed LGBTIQA+ communities were treated unfairly by police, and 4 in 5 did not feel safe with a large police presence at community events.
Three quarters of LGBTIQA+ overall people believed police should not march in uniform at Pride, as did almost 9 in 10 trans and gender diverse participants.
The survey also found that recent high-profile incidents had further eroded the LGBTIQA+ community’s trust in the police.
Devina Potter, Co-Convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby, said that although many in the community acknowledged progress, the report showed that Victoria Police still have a long way to go to mend fractured relationships.
“Victoria’s LGBTIQA+ communities have experienced decades of harmful policing in this state, including several high profile and fraught incidents in recent years,” said Potter.
“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.
“This is especially the case for members of our community with intersecting identities, like First Nations people, trans and gender diverse people, people with disabilities, sex workers, and illicit drug users.”
“For Victoria Police to repair the damage it has caused over the years will require attitudinal and systemic change.”
The Lobby’s recommendations include funding for a permanent community-controlled LGBTIQA+ legal service and improved data recording and reporting around prejudice-motivated crime.
Victorian Pride Lobby committee member Nic Holas said the Lobby hoped the report would spur both the State Government and Victoria Police to act.
“Until Victoria Police does more to build a better relationship with our communities, justice will be delayed for so many LGBTIQA+ people afraid to reach out for support,” said Holas.
“We hope this report can be a turning point.”