Manchester

Julie Barnes-Frank: Tributes to police LGBT 'trailblazer'

Julie Barnes-Frank Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Julie Barnes-Frank was awarded the first Alan Turing Memorial Award for her work to tackle homophobia

Tributes have been paid to a pioneering police officer who fought homophobia in the force and was one of the first uniformed officers to march at Pride.

Former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officer Julie Barnes-Frank died on Monday following a battle with cancer.

Ms Barnes-Frank, 56, campaigned throughout her 30-year career to make the force more inclusive.

Paul Martin of LGBT Foundation said she "was out on the front line" at a time "when LGBT equality was just a dream".

After joining GMP in 1979, Ms Barnes-Frank, from Stockport, helped found the Lesbian and Gay Staff Association (LAGSA) in 1999, offering advice and support to police staff.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Julie Barnes-Frank was nominated for the Hero of the Year Stonewall Award in 2007

Linda Barnes-Frank, 52, who married Ms Barnes-Frank in 2005, said she was always "committed heart and soul" to helping lesbian and gay people combat prejudice "not only in the police force but everywhere".

She said they met while both working for GMP in 1987 - a time when the force was still "a hostile environment" where being gay "was not the thing to be".

After "hearing of more and more officers having issues at work" with "nobody to speak to" the couple began campaigning for an organisation to provide help.

"It was quite a struggle to convince the force and prove there was a need for it," but with help from the Gay Police Association, they established LAGSA, she said.

"A lot has changed due to Julie's hard work and determination - today there's an embedded culture of respect for difference and greater equality," she added.

'Charming, yet determined'

Smyth Harper, LGBT Foundation chair, said Ms Barnes-Frank was "instrumental" in transforming GMP from "a service notorious for its prejudice against LGBT to one that is now perhaps one of the most open and accepting police services in world".

She was one of the first officers to march in the Pride parade in London in 2003, hailed as a crucial moment marking changes in police attitudes toward the gay community.

Ms Barnes-Frank was "proud" to be "breaking down barriers" between police and the gay community at the march, Linda Barnes-Frank said.

Following her retirement in 2009, she was awarded the first Alan Turing Memorial Award for her work to tackle discrimination by the LGBT Foundation and Manchester City Council.

Image copyright GMP Pride
Image caption GMP now has "the biggest police contingent in any Pride parade, not just in the UK, but across the world", the LGBT Foundation said

Councillor Kevin Peel, who presented her with the award in 2012, said she was "a trailblazer... and a true inspiration to the LGBT community in Manchester and beyond".

Mr Martin said she was an inspirational, "charming yet determined" activist who was admired be her peers and her "passing so early is very sad".

"At a time when LGBT equality was just a dream, Julie was out on the front line, quietly and oh-so-politely ensuring that LGBT police officers and staff were treated fairly, and with dignity and respect.

"She has played an important part in our community's history. Her legacy is a GMP that is more inclusive and equitable of LGBT people."

A statement from GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said she "supported countless colleagues through LGBT issues" and was "widely respected and well liked".

"[Julie] worked tirelessly to change policy, to prevent bullying and gain acceptance for LGBT staff but always in a fair, balanced and practical way," he said.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Julie Barnes-Frank was one of the first women in the police to come out as gay

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