Yukiko Matsuoka via Flickr

During Birmingham’s Pride parade, the Chief Constable of West Midlands was confronted by LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell.

During the 25 September event, police marched with the LGBTQ+ community as they celebrated Pride.

Tatchell, an LGBTQ+ rights activist and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, used the opportunity to confront Chief Constable Sir David Thompson.

“Thank you for marching with us,” Tatchell told Sir David. “You are welcome. But [it] is time that you apologised for the past persecution of LGBT+ people by West Midlands police.

“Your force was one of the most homophobic in Britain. While you are not responsible for past wrongs, you are head of the force that witch-hunted us.

“I hope you will draw a line under that persecution by making an apology, so we can move forward together.”

Sir David responded by telling Tatchell to “get in touch” so the issue can be looked at more thoroughly.

“If you get in touch with my office, I will look at the issue,” he said.

On 27 September, Tatchell issued a statement over what happened at Birmingham Pride.

“An apology would not right the wrongs done to these men but it would at least acknowledge that the law was wrong, not the men who were arrested, punished, stigmatised and vilified,” he explained.

Tatchell added: “Sir David apologised in 2020 to the Black community for his force’s history of racism. He seems a decent officer. I am hopeful that he’ll recognise the symbolic importance of an apology. It would help further improve LGBT+ trust and confidence in the police.”

Tatchell went on to say that the West Midlands police “were one of the most zealously homophobic” which is why he is demanding an apology from them now.

“In the decades before the full decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2003, West Midlands officers arrested thousands of gay and bisexual men for consenting, victimless behaviour. They were one of the most zealously homophobic police forces in the country, with arrest figures way above the national average,” the activist continued.

“Upon conviction, gay men were often jailed and beaten up in prison. Others were hit with huge fines. Many lost their jobs, homes and marriages. Some were bashed by homophobic mobs, driven to mental breakdowns and even attempted suicide. With the stigma of a criminal conviction for a homosexual offence, a lot of the victims of police homophobia had great difficulty in getting jobs and housing. Their lives were ruined by the police.”