Monday, September 27, 2010

Our homophobic police

More evidence that our police have failed to get the message on the Supreme Court's "new" (meaning: in the last five years) interpretation of disorderly and offensive behaviour charges: a man was charged with offensive behaviour for kissing a policeman:

Giving a police officer a huge kiss on the face after being offered a lift home did not end well for a Blenheim man, who instead got a ride to the police cells.

Constable Michelle Stagg said police were called to Wither Rd at 11.30pm on Saturday after complaints that a party was getting out of control. They found the offender unwilling to leave.

When police offered to take him home, the grateful man grabbed an officer and kissed him on the face, Miss Stagg said. He was promptly arrested for offensive behaviour.

Kissing a policeman may be many things (stupid, rude, an invasion of personal space, common assault), but it is not offensive in a legal sense. That requires behaviour which is so utterly beyond the pale of community standards as to create a real risk of public disorder and violence. This doesn't even meet the first test, let alone the second.

If the offender had been a woman, it is impossible to imagine the police charging them with offensive behaviour. Likewise if the police officer had been a woman rather than a man. This charge is simply a reflection of the culture of homophobia which still survives in the New Zealand police force - a culture which needs to be stamped out.