Current Affairs

Police told not to say gay people ‘bat for the other side’

PinkNews Staff Writer June 8, 2010
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A guide on “appropriate language” tells police not to use expressions such as “batting for the other side” and “lesbian tendencies”.

Officers at Lothian and Borders Police in Scotland have received the booklet, which is similar to others distributed to forces in the UK.

It tells them not to refer to gay and lesbian people euphemistically and to instead use “direct” and “factual” language.

“Phrases such as ‘a person of the other persuasion’, ‘a woman with lesbian tendencies’ and ‘he/she bats for the other side’ should be avoided,” it says.

Other guides ban phrases such as calling gay people “the gays” and warn against using the word “homosexual”, as this can conjure up images of abnormality.

In terms of race, the Scottish booklet says terms such as “Mongol” and “half-caste” are banned, while officers are told not to use terms such as “cripple” and “spastic” when referring to disabled people.

However, the guide has been criticised for banning more innocuous terms such as calling women “love” and “dear”.

It adds: “You should be aware that some people may not enjoy being referred to as ‘one of the boys’ or ‘one of the girls’.

“In a similar way, you need to be aware that terms such as ‘dear’, ‘pet’, or ‘love’ can be devaluing and patronising, particularly when used by older staff towards younger staff. They are best avoided.”

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken MSP told the Daily Telegraph the guide was “nonsense” and attacked Lothian and Borders Police for spending money on it.

The force has been unable to say how much the booklet cost to produce but a spokeswoman said it was designed to “complement the diversity training course that all staff attend.”

Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, welcomed the guidance on language for lesbian and gay people.

He said: “Lothian and Borders Police have a track record of working to build trust with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and making great efforts to ensure everybody is treated equally and fairly.”

Related topics: Scotland

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