Empathy for LGBTI in Caribbean

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:59 p.m. November 2, 2017

Toronto Police Constable Danielle Bottineau was in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, recently, for a two-day LGBTI Inclusion Police Training workshop.

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Constable Danielle Bottineau and Egale Canada Melissa Cook educated St. Vincent & Grenadines police officers on LGBTI issues

The Service and Egale Canada Human Rights Trust collaborated with the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity & Equality (ECADE) for the workshop delivered by the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Police.

Egale works to improve the lives of LGBTQI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex) people in Canada and to enhance the global response to LGBTQI issues

Bottineau said each organization brought a unique set of skills, strategy and expertise to the program, which resulted in the workshop being well organized in its delivery and effective in achieving the highest amount of knowledge-transfer possible.

“The Toronto Police Service brought a unique level of reliability to the workshop and created a police-oriented space that focused on service, professionalism, justice and the idea that the ultimate goal of community policing is to serve and protect,” she said.

On the first day, the term LGBTI was defined for participants who – among other things – participated in discussions revolving around complexity of identity and tools for change.

On the second day, they were exposed to techniques on how to deal with queer colleagues and queer citizens on the street.

“Our approach was rooted in an on-the-ground philosophy that prioritized police-community interaction based on dignity, professionalism and respect, rather than attempting to subvert the system of anti-LGBTI beliefs that are still very much relevant within the St. Vincent & the Grenadines community,” said Melissa Cook, EGALE’s facilitator. “The takeaway message was to treat all people with empathy and respect, regardless of whether or not the police officers personally accepted LGBTI folks.

“To support this idea, we discussed a model of community policing that would be relevant to St. Vincent & the Grenadines. The approach was rooted in the idea that the police must support all members of the community. Because the people of St. Vincent & the Grenadines are so community-focused, this approach worked well to highlight the importance of including all people in order to create happy and healthy communities.”

Cook said that, by the end of the workshop, the participants were able to effectively describe the difference between gender identity, expression, assigned sex and orientation.

Out of 21 participants, 20 reported they had more knowledge of the difference between sex and gender, gender expression and gender identity and the diversity of sexes, genders, gender expressions and forms of attraction. The same 20 also said they are better able to define terms related to LGBTI experiences, use, share and ask about pronouns and create LGBTI equity within their policing practice.

Egale has made several recommendations.

They include working with ECADE to develop a training strategy that includes regular workshops for Caribbean police services, creating a culture of “To Serve and Protect” LGBTI folks in the Caribbean by becoming familiar with cultural practices as well as the laws in place and starting conversations that will lead to the establishment of a community consultation committee between police and the community to table discussions about community safety, LGBTI inclusion and mutual respect in the Caribbean.

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Royal St. Vincent & Grenadines police officers display their certificates from their LGBTI Equity course
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