Gay gardai fear 'coming out' will damage career
MANY gay or lesbian gardai have remained in the 'closet' for fear they would never progress up the career ladder if they revealed their sexual orientation, a new report has revealed.
Research from academics at Dublin City University (DCU) has identified a leadership vacuum within the higher levels of the gardai in relation to the treatment of lesbian, gay and bisexual officers (LGB).
A lack of leadership or initiatives at management level to lend visible support to LGB officers had led to some remaining 'closeted' and fearful they would not achieve a higher rank, according to 'Culture of Diversity: Sexual Orientation in An Garda Siochana'.
Many of the 29 LGB gardai interviewed felt they were rendered invisible by a management policy likened to that of the now-defunct US Army approach of 'Don't ask, don't tell' -- which meant recruits kept quiet about sexual orientation.
Dr Vera Sheridan, one of the authors of the report, said the dramatic changes within Irish society over the past 20 years have brought about changes to legislation which impacts upon institutions.
"Strong leadership is needed for change in the institutional culture of An Garda Siochana as a whole-institution response to equality in the workplace," Dr Sheridan said.
"As a result, LGB gardai, would not feel the need to endure half-lived, closeted lives, in the workplace, as they serve their communities."
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the trend for police services as "male-dominated and conservative" was shifting.
In 2010, An Garda Siochana was named as 'Employer of the Year' by the National Gay and Lesbian Federation.