Bedfordshire Police has raised the rainbow flag at its headquarters in Kempston this morning as part of a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender differences.
The force is supporting IDAHOT Day - International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and Biphobia – on Sunday and will fly the flag all weekend.
Police have been promoting the help and support available for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) communities this week, highlighting the crucial role of their dedicated LAGLOs (Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers) and holding a web chat to discuss issues LGBT communities may face.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual hate crime is often referred to as homophobia. Victims can be subject to abuse that varies from violent unprovoked attacks or subtle intimidation, all of which have a lasting and damaging effect.
Deputy Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “Flying the flag is a gesture of our continued support and solidarity but there is still prejudice to tackle. We are working closely with our partner agencies to fight against hate crime. We are committed to ensuring everyone can feel safe in Bedfordshire and are calling for our communities to embrace difference and put an end to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”
Hate crime is under reported by all of our communities and the police are encouraging people to come forward and report incidents.
Scott Raghib, chair of Bedfordshire Gay Police Association, said: “The multi-coloured flag is a symbol of pride for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and we are proud of the diverse communities both across our force and our county.
“There are 76 countries which still place criminal sanctions on homosexuality and people should be free to be themselves without fear of arrest, attack and in some cases death. Flying the flag visually demonstrates that Bedfordshire Police fully support out LGBT communities and staff and work hard to protect them from hate crime.”