Australia

Victoria top cop says sorry to LGBTIQ+ community for 'unacceptable harm'

File photo of Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton Source: AAP

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says he's sorry for the way the force enforced historical laws which criminalised homosexuality.

Victoria Police has caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm to the LGBTI community and for that, the state's top police officer says he is sorry.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton formally apologised to the community, as well as to gay and lesbian police officers, for the enforcement of now-repealed anti-gay laws at a dedicated event on Monday.

"There have clearly been times when police actions caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm to the community and to our own people," Mr Ashton said.

"I am sorry to everyone in the community who did not receive the support and service they should have, who were concerned for their own safety and wellbeing, who as Victoria Police employees could not be their authentic selves at work."

Laws which made homosexuality a crime punishable by jail were repealed in the 1980s but it was decades before criminal records against many men were expunged.

Mr Ashton said while he was proud of the progress the force had made in dealing with the LGBTIQ community, more needed to be done.

His comments come months after a report into homophobia within the force showed the blue uniform and rainbow flag sometimes still don't mix.

Homophobia and transphobia threats, jokes and banter often go unchallenged, according to the findings released in May.

That same month, police came under fire over a botched raid involving Melbourne's Hares and Hyenas gay bookstore.

Nik Dimopoulos had his arm broken after being mistaken for a carjacker and arrested outside the Fitzroy shop.

The incident forced Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius to admit "police stuffed this one up," with the matter referred to Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog.

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