UPDATE, May 5: Victoria Police suspended a second constable in the investigation into leaked photos of former Aussie Rules Football coach and player Dean Laidley, according to news.com
The report also goes into detail about support Laidley’s receiving from former teammates and sports figures, although the reporter does unfortunately remark on his “lifestyle,” which reportedly involved the use of illegal drugs. Human rights advocates are calling not just for a police investigation into the leaking of the photographs, but a deeper look at the department’s “cultural issues” as well.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission pointed to a report exposing “a hypermasculine and heteronormative culture that normalizes transphobic and homophobic attitudes and feeds constrictive stereotypes about LGBTIQ employees.”
ORIGINAL STORY, May 3: Headlines about the arrest of a legendary former Australian Rules Football player who formerly coached the team in North Melbourne, Australia, are secondary down under as Victoria Police investigate how photographs and a mug shot from inside the police station made their way to social media, across the internet and into the tabloids.
The pictures show former premiership player Dean Laidley wearing a blonde wig, makeup and a dress. We’re not going to show you the photos here, since you can simply Google Laidley’s name and find them yourself. The former Kangaroos coach was picked up by police Saturday evening for stalking, among other charges, according to news.com.
Victoria Police’s official site on stalking is quite broad in defining the crime, but it says it could involve ex-romantic partners or even strangers.
According to AFL.com, sometime during Laidley’s interview in police headquarters, a male senior constable secretly snapped a photo of Laidley en femme, and shared it with several other officers via WhatsApp. A mug shot of him wearing mascara and eye shadow was also shared, and then leaked online.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton declared the leak “appalling and unacceptable.”
“It’s a breach of our values, it’s unlawful and criminal conduct and that’s the way we are treating it,” Patton told reporters.
Victoria Police announced they suspended the unnamed officer involved — there are conflicting reports as to whether that was with or without pay — for sharing the secretly snapped photo and mugshot. If he or any of the six officers with whom he shared the photos were involved in spreading them on social media, they could face criminal charges, according to Patton.
If convicted of unauthorized access to police information, the officer and his colleagues could be sentenced to two years behind bars and a fine of $40K in Australian dollars, which is more than $25K in U.S. currency.
Attorneys for Laidley expressed outrage on Twitter.
Disgraceful. Taking photos unlawfully and sharing them. And these were sneaky photos while in Police interview in Police Station by a Police Officer. FFS. https://t.co/XL57NIjDrg— Bill Doogue (@billdoogue) May 3, 2020
According to a statement by the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties, the release of the photos was a “serious violation of Laidley’s human rights” with “transphobic overtones.”
“It appears that these images were released with the intention of publicly ‘outing’ Laidley,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement to AFL.com. “Members of transgender and gender-non-conforming communities routinely report feeling distrustful towards police, and this incident will only further their concerns.”
LGBTQ advocates also expressed concerns about how the community already distrusts police officers.
“This incident requires an independent investigation as the first of many steps that are required for Victoria Police to do better for trans and gender non-conforming Victorians, many of whom have already experienced discrimination,” said LGBTIQ Legal.
According to reports, Laidley faced a magistrate Sunday but did not request bail, so he will remain in custody until a hearing on Monday, May 11.