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Police officers face probe for ‘waving rainbow flags’ at Brunei protest

Nick Duffy April 9, 2019
Officers from London's Metropolitan Police at the Brunei protest in Ealing

Officers from London's Metropolitan Police at the protest in Ealing (EL4JC)

London’s Metropolitan Police says it will investigate a clip that shows officers waving rainbow flags at an LGBT+ rights protest against the Sultan of Brunei.

An Ealing Labour councillor, Lewis Cox, staged the March 30 protest outside a London residence of the sultan, after Brunei implemented a new penal code that imposes the death penalty for homosexuality.

Police officers challenged for waving rainbow flags at Brunei protest

However, a video recorded by an Ealing Labour group at the protest has caused controversy, as uniformed police officers sent to patrol the demonstration can be seen smiling and posing with rainbow flags alongside the demonstrators.

The clip was challenged on Twitter, with users questioning why officers appeared to be “actively taking part in” the protest.

Although police officers frequently march at Pride parades, Metropolitan Police regulations call for uniformed officers to remain “impartial” during their duties.

Police officers from London's Metropolitan Police at the Brunei protest in Ealing
Officers from London’s Metropolitan Police at the Brunei protest in Ealing (EL4JC)

The regulations state: “A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to PinkNews that it was “reviewing” the incident.

Metropolitan Police ‘reviewing’ clip of officers waving rainbow flags

A statement said: “The MPS has been made aware of a recording on social media that shows officers at a demonstration in Ealing.

“The demonstration apparently took place on Saturday, 30 March, outside the residence of the Sultan of Brunei.

“We are reviewing the images and will be speaking to the officers concerned to ascertain the circumstances.

“It is the policy of the MPS to police demonstrations without fear or favour and to remain impartial at all times.”

Around 30 people attended the Ealing protest.

A larger protest was held outside the Brunei-owned Dorchester Hotel in London on April 6, attended by hundreds of people.

The demonstration was organised after LGBT+ activists and celebrities—including George Clooney, Billie Jean King, and Ellen DeGeneres—backed a boycott of the Dorchester and other hotels.

Protesters set off smoke bombs and laid rainbow-painted stones on the steps of the hotel to represent LGBT+ people in Brunei that will be executed under the legislation.

“We are urging countries worldwide to suspend diplomatic, economic and military relations with Brunei and to threaten boycotts, sanctions and disinvestments if these extremist Sharia punishments are not revoked,” said Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

More: Brunei, London, London, police officers

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