Police in Finland are getting their own LGBTI service, even though many of its officers still remain in the closet.

The LGBTQ group comes a year after the Finnish police marched in Helsinki Pride for the first time.

Senior police officer, Linnea West, told Yle that even though she’s always been out at work and felt accepted, the situation was different for male officers.

‘Homosexual men have a very difficult time being a part of the police community,’ she said.

Officers took it upon themselves to set up the LGBTI group. They did so because Finland lagged behind other countries when it came to representing the rainbow communities.

Building relationships

The LGBTI group couldn’t come soon enough in terms of building a relationship between police and the LGBTI community.

‘It sends a good message to the public when issues affecting sexual minorities are being discussed within law enforcement—it helps build trust,’ said Måns Enqvist, from the equality department at the National Police Board.

He also said the new group might help more people working in the police force to come out.

‘Police work has traditionally been macho, which has probably made it difficult for some to come out. The most important thing is that we have an environment where people feel that being openly gay won’t result in bullying or harassment,’ Enqvist said.

Calls for a LGBTI police group have existed for years, including from the national human rights advocacy group.

A few years ago, Finland’s human rights advocacy group for LGBTI people, Seta filed a complaint with the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman about the lack of support for LGBTI officers.

It said the next step was to build the relationship between police and the LGBTI community.

‘In order to improve the security of the sexual and the gender minorities, special attention should be paid to tackling and preventing hate crimes against LGBTI people strategically,’ Seta said on its website.

‘Police should also ensured that LGBTI people who have been subjected to a hate crime will receive expert and relevant service from the police.’

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