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LOS ANGELES : Suit by 2 LAPD Officers Cites Gay Rights Violations

Two Los Angeles police officers have filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the city and the Los Angeles Police Department, accusing the department of harassing and discriminating against gay and lesbian officers and failing to implement administrative reforms ordered by the City Council in 1993 to settle an earlier lawsuit.

Officers Lance LaPay and Natasha Benavides allege that they have been subjected to assaults in police station corridors, slurs and the refusal by other officers to patrol with them.

The lawsuit demands that the LAPD enforce the terms of the 1993 settlement, which includes requirements that the department institute complaint procedures to protect gay and lesbian officers’ rights and train officers to be more sensitive to gay and lesbian issues.

LaPay claims that the LAPD personnel office has received more than 200 harassment and discrimination complaints from other gay and lesbian officers, but no officer has ever been disciplined. Among about 7,900 officers in their department, only nine are openly gay or lesbian, Benavides said.

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Police Chief Willie L. Williams, when asked about the suit, said he had not seen it, but said that his “policy . . . has been that gay-lesbian officers have been treated the same as everyone else.”


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