For LGBT people, living in some parts of the UK is just as difficult as living in the American Mid-West, according to life peer Brian Paddick.
The former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (at the time the highest ranking openly gay police officer in the country) also said some people inside the police force believe it’s moved backwards in terms of diversity.
“It’s very easy,” Lord Paddick told RightsInfo. “If you live in a large metropolitan area and you have a liberal network of friends, you think everything is fine.” But the reality elsewhere can, he said, be very different. “Go to the North of England, or to North Wales, you’ll find attitudes that are more akin to the Mid-West states.”
‘People say things have gone backward’
Image Credit: Liberal Democrats / Flickr
Speaking about progress made in the Metropolitan Police Force, he said that, although “we’ve come a long way,” more work was needed.
“I’ve had meetings recently where people say things have gone backward. My view when I left the police ten years ago was that it was OK to be female, black or gay provided you behaved like a straight white man.”
Lord Paddick also said that work was needed across society to make sure LGBT rights were effectively enforced.
“There are lots of rights about protecting LGBT people – it’s enshrined in law. But it’s changing people’s attitudes that is the real difficulty.
“You can just see, whether you look at pay differentials for women, whether you look at stop and search against black people. Whatever the rights are, the facts prove the rights are not being enforced.”
‘This is the UK, in the 21st Century’
Image Credit: Zachary Staines / Unsplash
Lord Paddick also spoke about the work of the Albert Kennedy Trust, which focuses on supporting young, homeless LGBT people.
“Their sole purpose is to house homeless youngsters who have been kicked out of the family home because they are LGBT and they are struggling to house everybody. This is in the UK in the 21st century.”
A recent report by the charity showed that LGBT people make up almost a quarter of the young homeless. This is despite only 3.3 percent of 16 to 24-year olds identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual, meaning they are seven times more represented in the homeless community.
Onwards and upwards
On a more positive note, Lord Paddick shared his optimism about the new Commander of the Metropolitan Police Force, Cressida Dick.
“The good news is that I have lost my crown as the most senior openly gay police officer in the UK with Cressida.
“I’m very optimistic with her being the Commissioner and leading by example and demonstrating that people can be different and successful. You can’t be any more successful than being the Police Commissioner of the Met.”