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Gay Groups Welcome Historic Police Apology over ‘Tasty Nightclub Raid’

5 August 2014 at 10:22 am
Lina Caneva
The Not for Profit Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) has welcomed Victoria Police’s historic apology for the infamous police raid of the Tasty gay nightclub 20 years ago in Melbourne.

Lina Caneva | 5 August 2014 at 10:22 am


Gay Groups Welcome Historic Police Apology over ‘Tasty Nightclub Raid’
5 August 2014 at 10:22 am

The Not for Profit Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) has welcomed Victoria Police’s historic apology for the infamous police raid of the Tasty gay nightclub 20 years ago in Melbourne. 

The historic apology was delivered by Acting Chief Commissioner Lucinda Nolan to a small group of community representatives on Monday, just days before the 20th anniversary of the raid on Thursday, August 7.

Acting Chief Commissioner Lucinda Nolan with a group of community representatives at the formal apology for the police raid on Melbourne's Tasty gay nightclub 20 years ago.

“The events that took place that night caused distress to the people who were in attendance and had a significant impact on the relationship between the LGBTI community and Victoria Police,” Acting Chief Nolan said.

“It is therefore appropriate as we near the 20th anniversary of that event that Victoria Police extends a sincere apology to the community members that were impacted by that incident.

“We also extend a general apology to the broader LGBTI community for the impact that this event has had on our relationship over the last two decades.”

In the early hours of 7 August 1994, dozens of police officers descended on the Tasty Nightclub at the then Commerce Club on Flinders Lane. Over a seven hour period, 463 patrons, mostly members of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities, were detained and inappropriately strip searched. The incident resulted in an investigation by the Ombudsman and a successful legal action against the police.

VGLRL said the events were a significant turning point in public awareness and scrutiny of police conduct.

VGLRL life member and gay rights advocate Jamie Gardiner has a long history of working with the police to overcome what he says are cultural issues exemplified by the Tasty raid.

“In the immediate aftermath of Tasty, responding to claims that police had conducted the operation by the book, my response in the media at the time was that if that was the case the book should be torn up and rewritten. In the last 10 or 15 years the police have made significant progress on rewriting that book, and the apology today is an appropriate and very welcome book end to this chapter of our history,” Gardiner said.

VGLRL Co-Convener Anna Brown spoke on the future of the Victoria Police relationship with the LGBTI community in response to the apology from Acting Chief Commissioner Lucinda Nolan and described the event as “sombre and cathartic”.

“What happened that night should never have happened, and became an unfortunate stain on Victoria’s Police’s reputation. We thank the Chief Commissioner for the apology, which demonstrates Victoria Police’s organisational maturity and builds a strong platform for partnership into the future,” Brown said.

“The ‘Tasty Raid’ became a major catalyst in the evolution of the relationship between Victoria Police and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. Over the past 20 years, Victoria Police have developed their gay & lesbian liaison officers (GLLO) program, supported diversity within the ranks of the police force and celebrated LGBTI community events walking in uniform at events such as Pride March.”

VGLRL Co-Convenor Corey Irlam described today’s LGBTI community’s relationship with the police as a “positive partnership”.

“Tasty was a turning point. Today, every Victorian police cadet meets a gay person and a transgender person as part of their training and receives dedicated training on LGBTI issues. Non gay or lesbian officers are part of the GLLO program and all GLLOs receive additional training ensuring our community always knows there’s an officer they can trust and talk to,” Irlam said.

“Today’s police force understands and respects the LGBTI community in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of 20 years ago.”

The VGLRL also thanked the Acting Chief Commissioner for acknowledging the underreporting of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic incidents and offences committed against the LGBTI community.

To view a copy of the apology presented by the Victorian Police Chief Commissioner go here

A copy of VGLRL Co-Convenor Anna Brown's speech on can be found here.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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