West Midlands Police remain silent amid mounting calls to apologise for historic homophobia

LGBTQ+ rights activist Peter Tatchell and West Midlands Police chief constable Craig Guildford

West Midlands Police have been criticised for delaying making a commitment to apologise for its historical homophobia.

In a letter to West Midlands Police chief constable Craig Guildford in April, veteran human rights activist Peter Tatchell called on the force to apologise for its past behaviour.

Tatchell labelled the force as having previously been “one of the most zealously homophobic in the country, with arrest figures way above the national average” and one that “witch-hunted us and wrecked LGBT+ lives”.

Earlier this month, the force told PinkNews it would respond to the letter “in due course” but gave no indication whether it planned to apologise.

Tatchell has now said there has been no commitment to an apology despite a follow-up request on 11 May.

“The lack of engagement by West Midlands Police is extremely disappointing and sends a very negative signal to the LGBT+ community,” Tatchell said, although he is still hoping an apology will be issued before Birmingham Pride on 27 May.

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Tatchell also said West Midlands Police has not responded to an invitation to attend a meeting at the House of Lords on 7 June to discuss the case for an apology with MPs and members of the upper house.

‘Apologise so we can move forward together’

In his original letter, Tatchell wrote: “In the decades before the full decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2003, West Midlands officers went out of their way to target and arrest thousands of gay and bisexual men for consenting, victimless behaviour.”

He highlighted how there was a “vindictive policy” of releasing the names, addresses and workplaces of arrested men, which led to many of them losing their homes and jobs, being violently attacked, or taking their own lives.

“I would respectfully request you to put the past behind us by making an apology to the LGBT+ community, so we can move forward together,” Tatchell urged.

West Midlands Police apologised to the Black community in 2020 for historical racism, and Tatchell said that strengthens the case for a similar response to the LGBT+ community.

PinkNews has contacted West Midlands Police for comment.