The term ‘homosexual cop’ has been used to describe a male policeman or female police officer who is openly gay.
However, in practice, these terms have rarely been used for both sexes, and gay cops are more likely to be straight.
So what is the difference?
In a 2015 article for the Australian, sociologist Sarah Jones wrote about the experiences of police officers who are gay or lesbian, and she shared the story of one woman, who was “the only woman I have ever known who was openly lesbian, although her sexuality was not fully defined”.
The term ‘gay cop’ was coined in 2007, in a book by Michael DeLuca, titled Homosexuality in Police Departments: A Sociological Analysis.
This term refers to a police officer with a homosexual orientation.
It is used to refer to male or female policemen who have sex with men.
However, it was not until 2013 that a male police officer, who had been out as gay since the 1980s, was formally acknowledged as being a ‘gay’ cop.
This is because in 2007 a new law came into force to give police forces a legal right to classify themselves as LGBT.
The law, introduced by the former Attorney-General, George Brandis, allowed police to be called LGBT, or lesbian and gay, if they were: transgender, intersex, or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.
They could also be a lesbian or gay man.
In some cases, such as those in the New South Wales police force, LGBT police officers were able to claim that they were a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or asexual (LGBTQA) officer.
Gay police have been identified by the Australian Crime Commission as the most serious offenders in the country, and have been accused of serious crimes including murder, serious sexual offences, sexual assault and child sexual exploitation.
According to a 2014 report by the Legal Services Council of NSW, one in four LGBT people were the victims of sexual violence.
According to one study, over a third of police in NSW had experienced sexual abuse.
A survey conducted by the police union found that more than half of LGBT people who had experienced police violence had sought help, and many had received inadequate counselling.
A 2013 study by the Queensland Police Service found that one in six transgender women and one in three lesbian women had been sexually assaulted by a police force member.
There have been a number of successful prosecutions in NSW, including for police who had engaged in abusive behaviour towards a transgender woman.
A similar report by a Queensland police officer found that in one case, the officer had forced a transgender female officer to perform oral sex on him, then sexually assaulted her.
As well as being labelled a ‘homophobic cop’, LGBT police have also been labelled as homophobic by the conservative Liberal party.
Queensland Liberal senator Cory Bernardi said that a man in the LGBT community who had committed a serious crime should be treated as a criminal and that a transgender officer should be prosecuted as such.
“This is a man who was the victim of a criminal act, who’s gay, who has had a history of violence, and he should be held to the same standards as any other member of our community,” he said.
Senator Bernardi has been critical of the police, saying they were guilty of sexual harassment and discrimination, and called on the Government to amend the Crimes Act to give LGBT people a legal and social right to report violence.
He also suggested that police officers should not wear the uniform of the state.
Since then, a number have resigned in protest against the treatment of LGBT individuals in the police force.
In March, two officers resigned after they were accused of homophobic abuse, and in May, the state government announced that it was abolishing a mandatory four-year training course in LGBT law enforcement, and instead focusing on LGBT policing.
One of the officers who resigned was Andrew Tullis, a retired member of the NSW Police Force.
Mr Tulles told the ABC he had been assaulted and discriminated against in the past, and had written about his experience of abuse online.
He said he felt he was a victim of “systemic discrimination”.
In October, the Australian Federal Police announced it was scrapping its anti-discrimination policy, and it was ending its support for the training course.
LGBT activists say there are already LGBT officers in other Australian police forces, such the New England Regional Police Association and the Victorian Police Service. ABC/wires