THE Deputy Chief Constable for Cheshire Constabulary and national policing lead for LGBT has spoken about the impact coronavirus has had on cancelling Pride events and people's mental health.

Julie Cooke said: "I have spoken to many people and it is clear that cancelling Pride marches and celebrations is also going to have a huge impact this year. Within policing Pride is celebrated as an opportunity for our staff to be themselves and show who they are, very publicly, in a Pride march.

"Pride started as a protest against the harassment and mistreatment of the LGBT+ community and today the police involvement in Pride sends a strong message, not only to victims, but to those who wish to cause harm to the LGBT+ community. I know from speaking colleagues how important it is to them that they are able to show their communities that the police service has changed and is on their side."

She added: "The encouragement and backing they receive from their supervisors to take part also reinforces the support for them in the workplace and it gives them a sense of inclusion and acceptance (I hate that word acceptance. I don’t think anyone has the right to determine whether, or not someone else can or should be accepted, but it is very important that LGBT+ staff do feel accepted and valued as one of the team by their colleagues and supervisors).

"The effect of covid-19 means that it is really hard for many LGBT+ people to get the support they would normally have through social contact and through their networks and social groups. Not having Pride has also taken away their opportunity to catch up with friends, which is critical to many colleagues as this is the time to refuel, re-energise and to share experience in a way that formal meetings can’t provide."

And she explained why Pride still matters

"Every year we have hundreds of allies who are keen to take part in Pride and I want this to continue this year. This visible support for LGBT+ colleagues is greatly appreciated and reinforces what the police service should be. But, as with every year I have no doubt I’ll be asked by some 'Why all the rainbows? Why the Rainbow cars? Why the need to keeping talking about Pride? Why do I need to support this – I’m not gay’' "you’re already accepted so why make a big deal of it?". I will tell those people to think about what it’s like to be persecuted because of the person you love or the person you are. I will tell them that LGBT+ hate crime is still significantly under reported and that LGBT+ people are still attacked in the street in 2020 Britain because of who they are."