The Gay Police Association has issued a call for the murder of barman Stuart Walker to be recorded as a homophobic incident.
Mr Walker was found dead with “horrible” injuries near an industrial estate in Cumnock on Saturday 22 October. He had been beaten and burned. Police arrested an 18-year-old man on Thursday evening in connection with the case.
The GPA praised the speed with which the investigation into the killing of Stuart Walker by Strathclyde Police resulted in an arrest but voiced concern that the Force has not been treated as potentially homophobic.
It is the concern that failing to classify the death as possibly motivated by homophobia may prevent such evidence surfacing.
The MacPherson report, which followed the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993, brought about a change in the definition of what constitutes a racist incident to a test of perception. This now extends to homophobia.
The ACPOS Hate Crime Manual states: “If a crime is perceived to be a hate crime by the victim or any other person, including a police officer, it should be recorded and investigated as such”.
Chief Constable Stephen House said last week there was no reason to believe the attack was homophobic, and it had not been recorded in that way.
The contention raised by the GPA is that the test for homophobia at this stage is one of perception, not evidence, and that not recording an incident as having a potentially homophobic element may therefore mean such evidence never comes to light.
A final decision on whether an incident was motivated by homophobia would be made by the court trying the case, after considering evidence gathered during the investigation.
Strathclyde Police enjoys a 100% confidence rating in local leadership on issues about gay policing.
When PinkNews.co.uk spoke to Strathclyde Police this afternoon they said they were unable to give details about the Stuart Walker case as an arrest has been made.
The service also refused to answer general questions about whether an incident could be recorded as homophobic after an arrest had been made.