Merseyside Police and Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner are urging people to speak out against hate crime as organisations around the world prepare to mark International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
IDAHOBIT or IDAHO, as it is commonly known, is held around the world on May 17 to commemorate the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation finally removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
For the ninth consecutive year, Merseyside Police raised the rainbow flag, sometimes known as the ‘freedom flag’, at police headquarters as well as police stations in Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens.
The flag, which has been a symbol of gay and lesbian pride since the 1970s, will be lifted at a ceremony at police headquarters on Canning Place on Friday morning in front of representatives from the Gay Lesbian Support Network, Victim Support, Armistead and Homotopia.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt, said: “Flying the rainbow flag is an important visible sign of the police’s dedication and commitment to eradicating homophobia, transphobia and hate crimes against members of these communities.
“This forms part of our larger commitment to tackling hate crime in all its forms and we want the message to be clear to victims and offenders that offences involving disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.
“Merseyside Police is continually striving to raise awareness of hate crime in all of its forms. We always encourage victims and witnesses to report hate crimes to our specialist ‘SIGMA’ hate crime investigation units who will treat each case with professionalism and sensitivity and provide on-going support as their case goes to court.
“The rainbow flag signifies pride, inclusivity and diversity and we are proud to be working closely with other agencies to change attitudes and promote differences while ensuring we treat all people fairly and equally in the communities that we serve.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Ann O’Byrne said: “Flying the flag over stations across Merseyside sends out a strong and visible message that we will not tolerate crimes motivated by hate and prejudice.
“It shows our support for LGBT people here on Merseyside and across the world, particularly to those countries where people still face persecution, imprisonment and even torture and death because of their sexuality.
“Nobody should suffer abuse, fear or intimidation because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we raise the flag to mark IDAHO day, I want to reassure all LGBT people that here on Merseyside if you come forward to report any incident of hate you will be listened to, supported and helped.”
The Deputy also urged anyone who, for any reason, did not want to contact the police to get in touch with Stop Hate UK. Stop Hate are a national charity who have been funded by the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, to provide independent help and support 24/7 to all victims of hate crime.
To mark the day, the Deputy will also be attending the Navajo Merseyside & Cheshire LGBTI Chartermark Annual Awards.
The ceremony, held at the City of Liverpool College on Roscoe Street, recognises good practice, commitment and knowledge of the specific needs, issues and barriers facing LGBT people in Merseyside.
The theme for this year’s event is the ‘Lives and Experiences of Gay and Bisexual Women- Past Present & Future Barriers’ and organisations which have demonstrated their commitment to raising awareness and understanding of LGBT issues will be awarded the Navajo Chartermark.
Merseyside Police were awarded the Chartermark, which signifies an organisation as a top employer for LGBT people, in 2013.
Martin Fenerty, Operational Manager for the Armistead Centre said: “IDAHOT Day marks an important date in the LGBT calendar, giving us a great opportunity to raise awareness amongst young people about local LBGT support services and our partnership work with Merseyside Police in tackling Homophobic and Transphobic hate crime.
“The day highlights the impact of hate crime on individuals and wider communities and allows services like ours to reaffirm our commitment to addressing Homophobia and Transphobia. More importantly it is a reminder to every one of the importance of reporting all forms of hate crime and that there is help and support available.”
Detective Constable Tracy O’Hara who chairs Merseyside Police’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) network, added: “This is all about the police service and all the other agencies out there coming together to show a united front and take a stand against discrimination and hate crime.”
To find out more about the Gay and Lesbian Support Network e-mail email@example.com
For more information please visit www.armisteadcentre.co.uk or call Armistead’s helpline 0151 247 6560.
Alternatively you can follow the service on Twitter @ArmisteadCentre and take part in the conversation using the hashtags #IDAHOT and #IDAHOTLpool
Find out what events are happening on IDAHOT day in Liverpool by following @IdahotLiverpool.
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