Police / Police powers / Protest
UK Black Pride: advice and information
To celebrate UK Black Pride, Liberty has produced some resources for LGBTQ+ people of colour. Here you can find some advice and information on interacting with the police, attending a protest, and what to do if you’ve ever arrested.
YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS AS AN LGBTQ+ PERSON OF COLOUR
Please note: some of the language used below is based on what the law says. We apologise if you find some of this language upsetting.
Do I have a human right to be LGBTQ+?
YES! Your human rights are set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a treaty that was signed in 1950, and in the UK in the Human Rights Act 1998. So, don’t worry, your rights are not affected in any way by Brexit.
WHAT DO THESE LAWS MEAN FOR ME?
Article 8 of the HRA protects your right to respect for your “private and family life.” Article 14 protects your right not to be discriminated against.
Article 8 means that the government can’t interfere with your personal relationships. And when we put these two rights together, it means the government and any public bodies, like the police, aren’t allowed to discriminate against you because you’re an LGBTQ person of colour.
Your gender and sexuality are important parts of your fundamental human rights. The government can only interfere with them in very narrow circumstances.
CAN PEOPLE DISCRIMINATE AGAINST ME?
NO! Although the Human Rights Act only protects you from government bodies, the
Equality Act 2010 protects you from government and private bodies, like your employer or a shop.
The Equality Act lists a number of “protected characteristics” which include your race, sex, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation and “gender reassignment.” Public bodies, service providers and employers are not allowed to discriminate against you or harass you because of these characteristics.
The Act also protects you if other people harass you or discriminate against you because they wrongly perceive you to be gay, lesbian, bi, trans or queer, or because you “associate” with LGBTQ+ people.
What if I’m trans?
The Equality Act refers to “Gender reassignment”, but this is accepted as outdated and misleading. It means you can’t be discriminated against because you are trans. You don’t need any kind of medical treatment or a GRC to be protected.
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Being searched as a trans person of colour
CAN I BE STOPPED AND SEARCHED just BECAUSE I’M A TRANS POC?
NO. You can only be stopped and searched because:
1. Police have a reasonable and genuine suspicion that you are carrying:
- Illegal drugs
- Stolen Property
- A weapon
- Something that could be used to commit a crime
2. When a Section 60 Order is in place – if it is, they have to tell you.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I’M BEING STOPPED AND SEARCHED?
If you are being stopped and searched you can:
- Film the search – you can always film the police unless they believe you’re filming for the purposes of terrorism
- Keep the officer’s details
- Get a record of the search within 3 months
If you have been searched under Section 60, you can get a written statement of the search within one year.
Can police remove my clothes?
Police can remove:
- Outer coat
They can put their hands in pockets, socks, shoes, and under your collar. Tell them if you have something sharp in your pockets, like keys. They can search hair but should consider your gender, religion, or culture. If they remove any more than this, it is a strip search.
CAN POLICE REMOVE MY HEAD COVERING?
Head coverings like a hijab must be removed in a private setting by an officer of the same ‘sex’ as you. If you’re non-binary, tell the officer the sex you prefer to be treated as.
WHAT DOES A STRIP SEARCH INVOLVE?
Removing anything more than your outer layer of clothing counts as a strip search. You should always be told the reason for the search.
Strip searches can involve exposure of intimate body parts, but your dignity and privacy should be respected.
You should not be asked to remove all your clothes at once. You should be allowed to re-dress as quickly as possible. You should NOT be touched.
Police should not comment on your appearance or gender presentation, and you should be treated with dignity.
WHEN CAN THE POLICE STRIP SEARCH ME?
Only if police think you are hiding an illegal item under your clothes, and it has been authorised by a senior police officer.
what gender will the OFFICER be?
The law says strip searches should be carried out by members of the same ‘sex’ as you.
If you have a Gender Recognition Certificate, police must treat you as the sex on your GRC, but they shouldn’t ask for one.
If you don’t have a GRC or don’t want to show it, the police should ask you which sex you ‘prefer to be treated as.’ Your stated preference should be recorded.
CAN POLICE MISGENDER ME?
If the police don’t believe your gender, or you don’t give a preference, the police have the power to ‘determine’ what sex they think you are.
They must record that they have ignored your expressed preference, so get a copy of the record if this happens.
Just because the police can do this lawfully, doesn’t make their assessment right. Even if a police action is lawful it can still be a difficult or painful experience.
There is no shame in not disclosing that you are trans, or expressing a preference to be treated as a gender you are not. Always do what makes you feel safest.
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What are my rights on this?
Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them
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