Queensland study to examine life of LGBT police officers

By Rob O’Brien

The experiences of gay, bi-sexual and transgender police officers are being gathered for a university study in Queensland.

Current and former Queensland police officers who identify thmselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) are being invited to share their experiences for a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study.

School of Justice researcher Dr Sharon Hayes said the study was the first to look into the experiences of LGBT people in the Queensland Police Service (QPS).

"Participation in the study is anonymous and all it involves is telling your story," Dr Hayes said.

"We want people who spent at least five years in the QPS to come forward and tell us about their experiences."

Until 1994 it was illegal for Queensland officers to be LGBT. Dr Hayes said the results of the anonymous study would be given to the QPS and it is hoped the information would help improve future working conditions and police training in general.

"LGBT people were seen as unfit to be police officers and this caused a lot of stress for some people," she said.

"Because being an LGBT police officer was illegal, people would have to hide aspects of their personalities and this had the potential to cause a lot of pain.

"There were a lot of LGBT police officers there, but they weren’t allowed to be out. If they were found out, their working life may have been made more difficult and if their colleagues suspected they were LGBT, they may have suffered slurs, innuendo and practical jokes.

"In the 1970s, there was an inquiry to seek out lesbians in the police service and this also left some people pretty traumatised."

Dr Hayes said there has been change in the QPS since 1994, including the introduction of LGBT liaison officers to help provide support and training to the service on LGBT matters.

"As well as hearing about stories from the past, we also want to know whether there has been an improvement in working conditions and whether the traditional white, male working-class culture of the police service has changed," she said.

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