Gay minister Andrew Muir expresses concern over PSNI backtracking on LGBTQ+ issues

On BBC Spotlight, gay Northern Irish minister Andrew Muir shared his fears about the PSNI backtracking on LGBTQ+ issues.

The picture shows Andrew Muir in new BBC documentary as he shares his fears of the PSNI's backtrack on LGBTQ+ issues.

Stormont Minister Andrew Muir has shared his concerns over the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) backtracking on LGBTQ+ issues.

The comments came as part of his interview on the BBC programme Spotlight – Blood on the Dancefloor, an adaptation of the podcast of the same name which retraces the murder of gay police officer Darren Bradshaw in 1997. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot and killed by the Irish National Liberation Army paramilitary group while socialising at The Parliament, the first openly gay venue in Belfast.

At the time, Bradshaw was suspended by the RUC (now the PSNI) for suspicions of partying with other gay men and taking drugs. Vincent Creelan, who accompanied Bradshaw in his internal disciplinary process, believes Bradshaw’s sexuality influenced his suspension by the service. He stated: “The impression was given was that this was an embarrassment for the RUC.”

As part of the BBC show, Minister Muir criticised the PSNI for risking damage to its relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. He pointed out the persistent “institutional homophobia” within the service, which he dates back to even before the 2000s reform, in which the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was rebranded to the PSNI.

Muir also referred to the PSNI’s decision to prohibit officers from marching in uniform at Belfast Pride in 2023, despite it previously being allowed since 2017. He described it as “concerning” that officers were not allowed to participate in the march on duty, wearing their uniforms or referencing their profession.

The PSNI backtracking on this came as a disappointment for many, as marching in Belfast Pride gave visibility to LGBTQ+ officers and showed support from police forces to the community. The service defended its decision claiming it was needed to comply with its obligations on impartiality.

The Minister stated that the PSNI was “slipping backwards” on LGBTQ+ matters, adding: “There had been a lot of goodwill built up as a result of the decision previously to take part, and that has had a real significant impact. There’s a journey that needs to be undertaken to redress that issue in terms of policing. We can’t just let that go as if it was right.”


As the programme aired on Tuesday, broadcasting the Minister’s fears concerning the PSNI backtracking on LGBTQ+ issues, Andrew Muir shared he got emotional watching it:


Politician Andrew Muir has been an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community since he came out in 1996. In Februrary 2024, he became Northern Ireland’s first openly gay Minister in the Executive Committee as the head of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. Since 2019, he has been an Alliance Party Member in the Legislative Assembly for North Down.

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