Four police forces flew the rainbow flag this week to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

In Merseyside, all 41 stations showed their support for the anniversary of the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

Merseyside chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe helped raise one above his force’s Liverpool headquarters, which was lit up with rainbow-coloured lights.

Greater Manchester Police flew the flag from the force’s headquarters, along with Cheshire Constabulary and Essex, where it was raised at the force’s training college in Chelmsford.

Chief constable of Greater Manchester Police Peter Fahy said: “This shows Greater Manchester Police’s commitment to ensuring people, whatever their individuality, can feel safe in the city.

“Every day a number of hate crimes are reported to us, which I always find alarming. Whether people are gay, disabled, black, Muslim or Jewish, we find that there is a level of abuse directed at them.

“This tells us that there is still a great deal of prejudice and hatred out there, but we are determined to show our support for anyone who feels they have been targeted because of their individuality.

“Our support for events such as Idaho and Gay Pride demonstrates this commitment. I also feel that in terms of tackling homophobia within the force we have made great strides in recent years and our culture has changed for the better over the ten or 20 years.

“What we want is for people to come to work and be themselves.”

Howard Lawrenson, community engagement officer for Salford Division said: “The theme of this year’s IDAHO is ‘End Transphobia: Respect Gender Identity’ and by flying the flag, GMP is showing that we are working towards putting an end to homophobia and transphobia in our communities.”

However, some critics have suggested that forces should not show support for particular campaigns.

Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told officers to remove a rainbow flag which had replaced a Union Flag at an East London police station to mark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender history month in February.

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, told the Daily Mail: “Showing support for particular campaigns is a very dangerous route for the police.

“The job of the police is to enforce the law even-handedly and without prejudice, and we ought to be able to take that for granted.

“If they refused to fly this flag it wouldn’t mean they supported homophobia – it’s just political correctness.
“It’s much better for them to say we just fly the Union Flag, otherwise all sorts of groups will want them to fly their flags too.”