Galop was originally founded in 1982 to oppose the Met Police’s homophobic behaviour towards gay and bi men. Today, over 40 years later, the Baroness Casey Review confirms something that we have always known – that the Met is institutionally homophobic.
While the Casey Review focuses mainly on experiences of gay Met Officers and staff, at Galop we see directly how the Met’s institutional homophobia affects LGB+ victims of abuse and violence. We see gay people who are treated as suspects when they report being assaulted. We see police downplaying the abuse experienced by LGB+ people. We see gay men being told their sexual assault is “normal… part of the gay community”. We see lesbians and bi women experiencing both homophobia and misogyny from Met Police Officers. We see, in cases including the Stephen Port murders, how stereotypes about gay and bi people held by Met staff result in LGB+ people not being effectively protected from those who harm us.
Casey’s review is meant to understand and highlight the discrimination within the Met against minoritised groups – and yet the report erases the existence of trans, non-binary, and gender non-confirming people in their entirety. It does not find the Met to be institutionally transphobic – seemingly because it failed to look. From the work we do with trans victims of abuse in London, transphobia in the Met Police is even more entrenched and less addressed than homophobia.
Trans victims of abuse are treated as the problem – as though they are bringing the abuse and violence they experience on themselves by being who they are. Trans and non-binary people are misgendered, deadnamed, and treated with disregard for their gender identity. Trans people are assumed to be criminals and perpetrators, rather than a community that experiences disproportionate levels of abuse and violence. In one survivor’s own words: “Police don’t look at Black men, or trans people, and see someone who needs protecting – they see a threat.” While this review has institutional homophobia within the Met as one of its landmark findings, its failure to acknowledge the institutional transphobia in the force makes this report a failure for LGBT+ people in London.
LGBT+ victims of abuse don’t just face homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia when interacting with the Met – misogyny and racism affect many of the members of the LGBT+ people that we support. The whole system needs to be overhauled to remove the structures that have allowed institutionalised discrimination to fester unchallenged for decades. Celebrating Pride and giving LGBT+ Met staff additional voluntary LGBT+ Adviser roles on top of their day jobs is not meaningful. Small changes will not address a system which has allowed this to go on for decades.
LGBT+ people, women, and people of colour in London deserve to see radical change in the Met. Prejudice from the police has real life consequences for the communities and people they are supposed to be here to protect. This review does not go far enough. We cannot wait another 40 years.
Published: 21st March 2023