Police agree to support measures for LGBTQIA+ residents

Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne

Police will appoint a liaison officer for Cayman’s LGBTQIA+ community and will review officer diversity training, among other steps, following a meeting Friday that included representatives of Colours Cayman and the LGBTQ Foundation.

An investigation has also begun into recent anti-LGBTQIA+ social media posts to determine if breaches of the penal code have been committed, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service wrote in a press release on Wednesday.

Messages leaked from a WhatsApp chat group, Cayman Caribbean Cause, created safety concerns among the LGBTQIA+ community for their violent and disparaging content.

The initial RCIPS response, indicating complaints received about the messages were “not of a criminal nature”, provoked further concern and condemnation from Colours Cayman that safety threats were not being taken seriously.

The outcome of Friday’s meeting indicated progress between law enforcement and the LGBTQIA+ community. Police Commissioner Derek Byrne described the meeting as productive, frank and honest.

The Cayman Islands Red Cross, Chantelle Day and Ben Tonner also joined the discussion.

“Our continued mission is to serve the Cayman Islands by working with and working for all person(s) and communities across our islands. To do this successfully it must be in partnership with our community stakeholders,” Byrne said in a written statement.

“The main concern expressed by the group was that the LGBTQ+ community felt marginalized by some members of the public. They also conveyed concerns that RCIPS did not understand the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community and that complaints were not always taken seriously. The LGBTQ+ community simply wish to work closer with the RCIPS to ensure that their concerns are heard and that they are better supported.”

Police have now agreed to appoint a liaison officer who will be available as a consistent point of contact for the LGBTQIA+ community. In coming weeks, police are also expected to participate in diversity training.

Leonardo Raznovich of Colours Cayman said the meeting had been productive and he encouraged police in pursuing further diversity training.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the invitation by the RCIPS to receive sensitization training from our organisation and applaud the efforts of [the] police commissioner to ensure the continued education and training of his officers to ensure the protection and safety of our vulnerable LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands,” Raznovich said in the RCIPS statement.

The Cayman LGBTQ Foundation board indicated it was pleased with the meeting and the steps being taken “to promote intolerance for discrimination and harassment and to increase the safety and overall wellbeing of our LGBTQ+ citizens.”

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