The Agenda

Panamanian police chief draws negative reaction for pro-gay comments

Rolando Mirones (right), Panama’s National Police Chief, has drawn criticism from a variety of sources after claiming that he would not have a problem with openly gay individuals serving on the nation’s police force. While many public officials voiced their disapproval of the policy, one of the nation’s LGBT advocacy groups said that his promise is empty if it isn’t written into the law.

Via Blabbeando, a retired military general told the Panamanian newspaper Critica that Mirones was being truthful.

“I first thought that [Mirones] was joking with the reporters, then I believed that it had been a confrontational or rude response against media. Either way, today – under a more serene and meaningful reflection – I am certain that [Mirones] has perhaps realized that he made an unfortunate slip.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Delgado Diamante, the nation’s justice minister, told Panama America: “I cannot imagine a homosexual policeman, and this is a situation that I completely reject from a purely personal point of view.”

Blabbeando reports:

Ebrahim Asvat, a former director of the National Police of Panama, concurs. Allowing gays, tattooed individuals and people with earrings (as was also suggested by Mirones) are “liberties” that will weaken the discipline required of the institution. “This opens itself to allow the institution to be infiltrated by many delinquents.”

The church says there should be no discrimination: Surprisingly, the church is the institution that seems to be asking for a more measured response. Monsignior José Domingo Ulloa told PA that “a person cannot be discriminated” although he also said that it was up to the Police Department to determine who it allows in or keeps out. “What the church asks,” he said, “is that the workk gets done in the most serious and responsible manner, because what is most important is to safeguard the security of all Panamenians.”

LGBT rights advocate doubts gays will be allowed to serve as police officers, asks Mirones to work with his organization to change written law: In the meantime, back at the Critica article, Ricardo Beteta, President of the Panamanian LGBT-rights organization New Men and Women of Panama (HMNP) says that he doesn’t see gays and lesbians serving in the police force anytime soon.

“If the Director says it, it’s a very important step;” he says, “What worries me is that the Police Law says: ‘If the institution discovers that a unit has a life as a homosexual or lesbian, it is cause for destitution’ – and so he should change the regulation that currently is a Law of the Republic so that his words truly have value.”

“If this change is not done, when he is no longer Chief of Police, those people who declared their sexual preference will be without protection,” he added, “then it will be a announcement made half way. What he should do is to work with us so that the Law is changed.”