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A Gay Independent Member's Reflections

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Written by  | Published in: Personal stories

by Luke Bryant


During the 1950's, I served six years part time in the Royal Australian Air Force, while concurrently employed at Kodak Research Laboratories, Australia. This was the period of the Korean War and nuclear testing in Australia; this was also my first connection to security and law enforcement issues. 


In 1951, I had also been appointed to the Honorary Staff of the Museum of Applied Science (Now Museum Victoria) and lectured on Astronomy at Melbourne Astronomical Observatory.


It was foreseeable that as a undeclared gay guy, I would eventually stand against discrimination toward gays as the continuing legal injustice continued, a situation that is a reminder of three noteworthy quotes: 

 


1. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr

2. “Burst down that closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight. Harvey Milk

3. “A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.” Abraham Lincoln

 

pdf  Click to download a PDF version of this article.

 

In 1975, my concerns about adverse media comments against several highly respected sworn police officers who were gay or lesbian by the Victorian Minister for Police, resulted in an invitation to join their sworn officer Group known as the “Gay and Lesbian Police Employees Network” (GALPEN (Vic) Inc.) formed earlier to confront various outmoded police and community attitudes persisting despite the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 1995, which outlawed sexual discrimination.


The Network appointed me official photographer and then Communications Officer in 1998. During those years I established a second website; used by members for confidential information while non-restricted reports were available to supporting organizations.


california-republicIn 1999, having just returned from San Francisco it was my great pleasure to carry the Californian State Flag at the head of our Network to represent the friendship between international gay police. Later, gay law enforcement officers in California noted my involvement in legal complexities similar to theirs and I was invited to join the Golden State Peace Officers Association in 1996 as an Affiliate Member. In Victoria, our police and civilian members marched in the Annual Victorian State Pride Marches from 1997 to 2002.


By the end of 2002 GALPEN police members, working more amicably with Police Command at last achieved equality and new training procedures were put in place at the Academy, partly as a result of the 1984 Act.


In 2004 GALPEN Executives recommended me for Honorary Life Membership.


luke-bryantBecause of my continued police connections, sadly, there remain persons that continue mistrusting me. I believe this is because of my outfit, seen as a Victoria Police uniform! That assumption is totally incorrect, it is clothing from the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation, a charitable Organization and attire I am both legally entitled and proud to wear on many occasions.


In 2011, I was invited to join other volunteers at the Police Academy, training Recruits via a program entitled “Community Encounters”.


In 2013 our first “Encounter” with future police was in January and during the remaining year, we have held 23 sessions over a period of nearly 60 hours with about 408 police recruits and 525 Protective Service Officers. There appears to be great opportunities over the next years to not only continue the current work we do, but to give it greater prominence within Victoria Police and I believe the general community.


It remains incomprehensible why a percentage of older gay and lesbian persons seem to willingly retain and indeed apply sad memories of earlier days when Australian law rejected homosexuality, occasions when police acted, at times badly. However, long standing Law Enforcement records indicate that supporters or upholders of State or Federal Laws are often accused of overreacting, or aggression. When I go into any situation and see or find something out of order or illegal, I will try to bring about change and if a anyone feels they are being challenged and react against what is legal, their modus operandi may be suspect.


Chapters and Members seeking to support improved relationships with Law Enforcement should perhaps embrace fresh ideas.


In Australia, Federal and most State Police have GLBTI Liaison Officers ready to help our general community when needed. In the United Kingdom, the Metropolitan Police Service has similar liaison officers on every borough to assist our people living, working or visiting London. In the USA Lambda Legal was Founded in 1973 and is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. It is a non-profit organization, not charging their plaintiffs for legal representation or advocacy, they receive no government funding, only depending on contributions from supporters around the country. In Canada, in May 2001, Toronto appointed its first gay and lesbian liaison police officer and I believe there are other Cities.


The above worldwide Police and Law organizations can do with a lot more united support from the GLBTI Community, please find ways to give them support.


I can only suggest, do not prejudge the above ideas, judge them after they have been tried.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 09:20
Luke Bryant

Retired, following 20 years at Monash University, Dept. of Physics as Head of Photographic Laboratory from 1962 to the end of 1982 – to become openly involved with Gay/Lesbian issues in Law Enforcement, particularly those of Gay/Lesbian Victoria Police Officers.

I'm also a member of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation,  formed  to perpetuate the memory of members of the Victoria Police killed in the line of duty. This is achieved through fund raising with money going to specialized medical facilities in Victorian public hospitals. 

To date, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has allocated more than $3 million to community projects that give specialized treatment and medical care to over 65,000 patients each year.

* See: Articles in Prime Timers, "ACCEPTANCE - NOT TOLERANCE AND HATE-CRIMES"  Pages 10 & 11, February 2012 and "TIMES PAST" Pages 10 & 11,  August 2012. 

Much of my history and photos can be found throughout my website on Yahoo “flickr”.  See below.

Website: www.flickr.com/photos/rlukebryant/

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