For the tenth consecutive year, Merseyside Police will be pledging to support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) community by recognising this year’s International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
Like previous years, we’ll be raising the rainbow flag outside Merseyside Police HQ. We’ll also be touring and signing a canvas with this year’s theme “Justice and Protection for All” printed on it.
The canvas, which will spend around a month being toured across the force, aims to gather signatures from officers and staff pledging to show their support in addition to openly celebrating inclusivity and equality.
Officers from our LGBT+ Network will also spend some time educating colleagues on the importance of supporting those within the LGBT+ community whether they’re members of the public or within their teams.
The canvas will then be permanently displayed acting as a constant reminder to continually welcome, celebrate and embrace diversity.
IDAHOBIT has become a significant date in the diary since 17th May, 1990 when the World Health Organisation finally removed homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy, who will be attending the flag raising ceremony and signing the canvas before joining the Chief Constable at the Navajo awards ceremony, said: "IDAHOBIT is an important day in our annual calendar. By supporting these events, I hope we send out a powerful message that Merseyside Police are committed to equality and diversity and, from the very top, recognise the needs of Merseyside’s LGBT+ community and their own LGBT+ staff.
“In a world where same sex relationships are criminalised in 72 countries, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people still live with oppression every day. The effect of lifting the rainbow flag and seeing it fly proudly over Merseyside Police headquarters should not be underestimated. It is an act of solidarity, of support and of comradeship.
"I hope it is also a sign to the community just how seriously Merseyside Police takes incidents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and that they will take robust action against anyone caught carrying out acts of hate.
"If, for any reason, you still do not feel comfortable contacting Merseyside Police directly, I would urge you to contact independent charity Stop Hate UK, who also offer support and guidance 24/7 to anyone affected by hate."
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "Flying the rainbow flag is a visible sign of our dedication to eradicating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Merseyside.
"This forms part of our larger commitment to tackling hate crime in all its forms and we want the message to be clear to victims and offenders that offences involving disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.
"I will also be attending the annual Navajo Awards Ceremony this afternoon (17th May), an event the force has been involved in for a number of years. The Navajo Charter mark, which the force holds, is awarded in recognition of dedication to improve equality and celebrate diversity and is built into the foundations of the force’s Community First model."
Constable Josh Griffiths from Merseyside Police's LGBT+ network, said: "Showing our visible support for IDAHOBIT demonstrates our commitment to eradicate crimes against the LGBT+ community.
“Sadly, hate crime continues to be under-reported but we hope our involvement in today’s event and going forward, encourages people to report incidents to us.
“We’ll of course continue to offer training to ensure officers are appropriately equipped to deal with offences and support victims as well as working with our partner agencies, the PCC, community engagement teams and the CPS to put offenders before the courts and provide victims with the justice they so rightly deserve.
“As a police force, we have an excellent set of values and I’m proud to work for an organisation that prides itself in striving to raise awareness of hate crime in all of its forms.”