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Monday, 24 November 2008

Cop who sought a cop-out

A police officer who, according to the rabidly homophobic Christian Institute, has been “discriminated against for traditional beliefs” is due to have his case heard this week at a disciplinary tribunal.

PC Graham Cogman, who’s 49 and comes from North Norfolk, has been a copper for about 15 years.

But, says the CI of Cogman’s intention to take his employers to an employment tribunal on the issue:

PC Cogman is taking the unprecedented action as a serving policeman after a series of complaints and investigations suggesting he is “homophobic” – something he strenuously denies. He says that the “over the top” promotion of homosexual rights within Norfolk Police makes being a Christian policeman, or an officer with traditional family values, extremely difficult, unless a person is prepared to ignore his or her conscience.

It then goes on to tell Cogman’s story:

In 2006, PC Cogman was working at the force’s Great Yarmouth headquarters when gay liaison officers put “politically correct” pressure on all colleagues to wear a pink ribbon supporting Gay History Month. PC Cogman claims police stations were flooded with homosexual literature, posters, including the promotion of a gay quiz night in pubs. As a member of the Police force, an organisation which he feels is charged with upholding traditional standards of freedom of speech and association, he emailed colleagues with an alternative view on the subject, stating his Christian views and reminding them that Christians, and other members of society, whom they serve as officers, believed homosexual acts were wrong in God’s eyes.

PC Cogman was subsequently accused of failing to be tolerant and banned from using the force’s internal email system. When the event re-occurred 12 months later, PC Cogman again protested, especially when the promoters wanted to use the Rainbow Symbol, which has special significance for many Christians. The officer was summoned to a full disciplinary hearing. On the strong advice of lawyers, and because he was told he would lose his job otherwise, he pleaded guilty to a breach of the police code of practice and was fined the maximum, £1,200. When PC Cogman then added a Christian text to his computer screen saver, he was questioned again and in April 2008, he was interviewed about his faith and beliefs. He now faces a further full disciplinary hearing and is in fear of losing his job.

Perhaps no one should be forced to wear pink ribbons, but he didn’t have to do the cyber-preaching to his colleagues. Then we get, “As a member of the Police force, an organisation which he feels is charged with upholding traditional standards of freedom of speech and association . . .” What does he mean? That only “traditional” ideas should be talked about? Just what are “traditional” standards of freedom of speech? His standards? Just his conservative Christian standards? Are only “traditional” standards of freedom of speech acceptable within the police force?

He sent homophobic emails out. The rules say no homophobia.

The Daily Telegraph said back in July:

PC Cogman, a father of two, said reconciling his religious beliefs with his job was becoming more difficult because the force’s stance on homosexuality was at odds with his religious views.

“The blatant support for homosexual rights in Norfolk Police makes being a Christian officer extremely difficult,” he said.

Well, things change. Gays have fought long and hard to be recognised as equal to straights, and people in positions of authority should be ready to deal with that. Religion, after all, is something that can be ignored. One’s sexuality isn’t.

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