Director of Samtökin ’78 happy to hear about the non-discrimination policy the police has towards victims of domestic violence. Says that in spite of good intentions the police still needs special education on how to deal with violence among queer couples and queer matters in general.
”That statement is great, obviously. I know that the new work protocols that the police are implementing regarding domestic abuse are greatly needed. And from what I’ve seen it has been given a lot of thought,” says Auður Magndís Auðardóttir, director of Samtökin ’78 (e. The National Queer Organization), about District Commissioner’s Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir response, that when it comes to domestic abuse, victims are not being discriminated against because of gender or sexuality or any other factor for that matter.
However, Auður says that when the District Commissioner talks about not seeing the need for the police to receive any special education on how to deal with domestic violence among gay or queer (i. hinsegin) couples, she can’t but disagree.
”The fact of the matter is, that all minority groups, whether it be queer or disabled people, have faced certain issues that others have no clue about and don’t see until it’s pointed out to them. It’s not necessarily prejudice, we simply don’t get it, until someone tells their story and it is pointed out to us.
But the District Commissioner has said that she is ready to reconsider this need; to reevaluate some form of special education if someone can make a good case of why it would be needed. What is Samtökin’s response to that?
”Well, besides the story of Antoine Hrannar Fons, there are many more cases that show the District Commissioner should reconsider her opinion. For example the experiences trans people have had. When dealing with government officials, such as the police, they are sometimes forced to use their birth-names instead of the names they wish to go by, because they have not gotten through the legal formality of changing their names on official documents. Police officers should respect trans people’s wishes to use a name of their own choosing.
In other countries many police departments try to prevent these kind of instances from happening by educating their staff in queer matters. They have purposely gone on a mission to be more queer-friendly.“
”…besides the story of Antoine Hrannar Fons, there are many more cases that show the District Commissioner should reconsider her opinion.”
But Auður says that she want to be clear that she is not saying that the police are any different from others. That they don’t intend to be disrespectful or not understanding. They just don’t have the necessary information to deal with certain issues.
”Our educational system has just started to open up about these minority groups, so why should the police know any better? But with better information they could be so much better equipped to deal with things.”
Are Samtökin ’78 ready to help the police in receiving such education?
”Of course. One of our main aim is to educate people about the issues of queer people. We hold over 100 different lectures each year,“ says Auður and adds that not so long ago Samtökin ’78 actually started talking with the police department with the aim to make it more queer friendly.
”We wanted to look especially into categorizing assaults on queers as hate crimes, since so many of them have the declared and purposeful intent; you are being attacked because you are queer. That was one of the things we had discussed with the police. But nothing has come of it as of yet. It was not formally cancelled though. Perhaps it just fell through the cracks.“
So are Samtökin ´78 ready to continue those talks?
Main photo: Still from a news clip on RÚV.