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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2006, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Welsh gay equality 'lags behind'
Mark Hannaby
By Mark Hannaby
The Politics Show

Activists in a gay rights parade
Stonewall wants to see equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people
Wales lags behind other parts of the UK in accepting differences in sexual orientation, according to the chief constable of South Wales Police.

Barbara Wilding told BBC Wales' Politics Show that Wales had "perhaps some way to go yet in comparison to other parts of the country."

Her comments came ahead of a campaign against discrimination in the workplace by gay rights group Stonewall Cymru.

Discrimination at work due to sexual orientation was outlawed in 2003.

South Wales Police have made dramatic progress - and I don't use the word 'dramatic' lightly
Sgt Craig Bannister

But Ms Wilding said some workplaces were still not complying with the law.

The Stonewall survey found 25% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Wales had experienced being sacked because of their sexuality, a figure higher than the UK average.

The chief constable's comments came on the eve of a new project by Stonewall Cymru to raise awareness of discrimination against gay people in Welsh workplaces.

Debbie Lane of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Cymru helpline, said people who remain in their jobs too often suffer discrimination - from being overlooked for promotion to homophobic bullying, even violence.

South Wales Police chief constable Barbara Wilding
Barbara Wilding became Wales' first woman chief constable in 2004

Ms Lane said: "For example, people leaving messages on people's workstations saying, 'People like you make me sick'.

"Then we have the extreme side of things where actual violence has occurred outside the workplace."

Stonewall Cymru said too many gay workers did not know their rights, and too many of the agencies they turned to for advice were not up to speed with the law either.

Stonewall Cymru director Alison Parken said: "One of the things that we have done, with the help of Government funding, is to introduce a training project to enable generalist advisors in Citizens Advice Bureau around Wales to understand the manifestation of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace or harassment and give them advice about how to advise people."

Stonewall has assessed South Wales Police procedures and awarded them the title of Welsh "diversity champions" alongside the likes of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea, Cardiff University and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Sgt Craig Bannister, a gay man working for Ms Wilding's force, said the changes in the organisation's attention to the concerns of gay staff had been "extraordinary".

Sgt Bannister said: "South Wales Police have made dramatic progress - and I don't use the word 'dramatic' lightly - in the sense that very recently we have launched a gay staff network for police officers and police support staff."

The Politics Show is on Sunday 25 June at 1200 BST on BBC One.

"We've launched a gay network for officers and support staff"



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