PSNI Officer Paul Bloomer spoke up about the importance of police participation in LGBT+ Pride marches in Northern Ireland at the Alternative Queer Ulster event held in Stormont last Saturday.
At the event which celebrated and amplified queer voices in Northern Ireland, Bloomer addressed the positive contributions of LGBT+ people inside the police service. Despite the difficult history which exists between the LGBT+ community and the police service, Bloomer vocally advocated for the presence of officers in uniform at Belfast Pride.
“The simple act of Pride participation is about empowering queer police officers so they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities and remain true to themselves.”
Last night I had the opportunity to speak in @niassembly at Stormont about the positive contributions of LGBTQ+ people inside the Police Service. Also to acknowledge the difficulty history between Police & LGBTQ+ people & how things have changed.#aqu19 #belfastpride #truthtopower pic.twitter.com/EkK3nvpPM5
— Paul Bloomer (@Bloomeroid) July 28, 2019
Although Bloomer acknowledged that historically and internationally there has been a lack of consideration in policing surrounding the treatment of victims of LGBT+ hate crime, he insisted that has changed in Northern Ireland.
The debate surrounding the presence of uniformed police officers has been a hot topic of discussion this year, with both Dublin and London Pride opening up to the inclusion of police officers in the 2019 parades.
The presence of An Garda Síochana at Dublin Pride this year was met with protest, with Queer Action Ireland arguing that “the participation of gardaí in uniform in this year’s parade is in direct opposition to the liberatory principles of Pride. The police continue to target LGBT+ people, sex workers, migrant and other ethnic minority people in Ireland today.”
However, the presence of the PSNI at Belfast Pride this weekend will undoubtedly bolster the shifting image of the police as an inclusive employer welcoming of all LGBT+ identities.
This comes alongside the new Police with Pride campaign organised by the PSNI LGBT Network.
Neighbourhood officers and officers from our LGBT+ network are engaging with the Public at Belfast City Hall this afternoon as part of the Belfast Pride Family Picnic. Pop down and say hello. #belfastpride #policewithpride #lgbt pic.twitter.com/qeHFIxb4hT
— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) July 27, 2019
Northern Ireland remains the only region within the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is not legislated for, although the law surrounding this has recently been overturned by Westminster. Same-sex ceremonies are set to become legal in the six counties unless Stormont is resurrected by October and steps in to block the change.
Belfast Pride Festival is currently taking place across the city until August 4, which will culminate in the parade featuring many LGBT+ communities, now including PSNI Officers.
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