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OutBermuda voices support for police officer

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A gay rights charity has voiced its support for a police officer who accused two colleagues of a serious sexual assault.

OutBermuda said in a press release that it backed the officer's legal challenge of a decision by the Director of the Department of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute the alleged attackers.

The charity said: “With respect to the recently reported news that the Director of the Department of Public Prosecutions has decided to not proceed with prosecuting the alleged assailants in a reported sexual assault, OutBermuda supports the survivor's request to have said decision judicially reviewed.

“It took tremendous courage for this survivor to report his experience and we look to see justice served.

“OutBermuda is encouraging our community to step up and speak out about unfair discriminatory practices that deliberately disenfranchise or maintain a status quo that results in services being biased against those victims from the LGBTQ+ community.

“It is everyone's duty to demonstration respect and dignity to all. Survivors of sexual violence must be believed irrespective of their sexuality.”

The charity has collaborated with the Centre Against Abuse to enhance the services available at CAA.

The press release said: “CAA wants our community to understand that sexual violence affects every demographic and every community, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning community.

“CAA defines sexual violence as any type of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexist attitudes and actions to sexual assaults and murder.

“CAA has a mandate to assist all survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault above the age of 18, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Our role is to provide support and safety for all our clients in a non-judgmental caring environment.

“We encourage those in the LGBTQ+ community who are over the age of 18 and have experienced sexual assault as an adult or during childhood to contact us for assistance if someone requires support.”

The two organisations said they recognised that LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual violence faced many discriminatory practices and personal prejudices.

The statement added: “This often leads to a hesitancy to seek help from the very resources that are supposed to help them e.g. police, hospitals, lawyers and counsellors. “Compounding this, the USA Centres for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that sexual violence occurs in the LGBTQ+ community at a rate higher than that of the heterosexual community.”

The press release noted that the US-based Human Rights Campaign says LGBTQ+ people face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalisation, which puts them at greater risk for sexual assault.

LGBTQ+ people also face higher rates of hate-motivated violence, often taking the form of sexual assault, and intimate partner violence stemming from internalised homophobia and shame.

The press release said: “With this in mind, CAA is encouraging our community to have conversations that will build an understanding and support to LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual violence.

“Sexual violence in the LGBTQ+ community is something that we all must work together to address and prevent.”

CAA urged the community to do the following if someone shares that they have been sexually assaulted:

• Listen and believe them, and reassure them that it was not their fault

• Keep their disclosed information and circumstances confidential, unless it requires mandatory reporting, and never pressure them to do something beyond their level of comfort

• Encourage them by sharing CAA resources that are available

• Offer support by attending a first session with a counsellor and also ask how else you can support them

The Centre Against Abuse can be contacted on 292-4366 or info@centreagainstabuse.bm.

It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

OutBermuda's Adrian Hartnett-Beasley (Photograph by Zeudi Hines)
Laurie Shiell, the executive director of Centre Against Abuse (Photograph supplied)

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Published July 02, 2020 at 9:36 am (Updated July 02, 2020 at 10:39 am)

OutBermuda voices support for police officer

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