Police sporting multi-coloured laces and government buildings flying Gay Pride flags as UK joins day of diversity
PoLICE officers wore rainbow laces in their boots yesterday to show support for sexual and gender diversity.
Leicestershire Police tweeted a picture of more than a dozen officers standing in a circle displaying their colourful accessories, while others sported rainbow lanyards and epaulettes.
other forces and government buildings across the country raised rainbow gay pride flags in support of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHoTB).
MPs marked the day with a debate in Parliament on LgBT issues.
Rainbow flags were hoisted outside the Treasury and City Hall in London, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the EU parliament in Brussels. Local councils, hospitals and town halls also joined in.
The foreign office produced a video series for the day and foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted: ‘Standing up for human rights, including LgBT rights, is an integral part of @foreignoffice work. Societies where people live freely attract world-class talent, business investment and are more stable and prosperous.’
IDAHoTB is the largest LgBT solidarity event in the world, with 1,000 events in more than 120 countries. It began in 2004 and takes place on May 17 each year because until that day in 1990 homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder by the World Health organisation.
During the debate in Parliament, MPs called for Pride events to be held in smaller towns, where it is claimed LgBT people face their biggest challenges. Tory MP Bob Stewart, an exArmy officer, said one of the bravest battalions in the Second World War was recognised as being full of gay men. Conservative former education secretary Justine greening spoke about her experience of coming out.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, released a statement to mark the day in which he said that America ‘ firmly opposes criminalisation, violence and serious acts of discrimination such as in housing, employment and government services, directed against LgBTI persons.’ Leicestershire assistant chief constable Julia Debenham said the day was a ‘great opportunity to remind and reassure everyone of our ongoing commitment to tackle prejudice.’
But pictures posted on the force’s Twitter accounts, including images of officers wearing rainbow boot laces and rainbow lanyards, were not welcomed by all, with some users suggesting their time would be better spent investigating hate crimes. Police chiefs have previously been urged to abandon social media gimmicks after being told they were undermining the job of tackling crime.
Officers in Avon and Somerset painted their nails last year to highlight the evils of modern-day slavery and male police officers in Cardiff wore stilettoes while in uniform to highlight the issue of domestic violence. Leicestershire Police said that yesterday’s rainbow lanyards had been paid for by individual officers and staff members.
Responding to criticism, the force’s equality unit – tweeting as Police Diversity – wrote: ‘officers and staff are still working today and attending and investigating “real crimes”, but they might be doing so wearing rainbow laces or lanyards.’
‘Commitment to tackling prejudice’
Best foot forward: Police officers tweet a picture of their rainbow laces yesterday Flying the flag: City Hall in London