Police In New Jersey Rally Behind Gay Cop Fired After Homophobic Slurs

"If this is how you are treating one another, how the hell are you treating the public?”

A policeman in Bergen County, New Jersey, is suing the sheriff for homophobic harassment and wrongful termination.

Andrew Kara, a former Marine and SWAT team officer, claims other cops in his squadron repeatedly taunted him with gay slurs, including “homo” and “fag.” He was mocked for being “girlish”, despite being an ex-Marine, and asked invasive questions about his HIV status. (At one point, a coworker accused him of having AIDS and told his colleagues not to touch him.)

Kara says complaints made to higher-ups went ignored.

According to court papers, “the hostile, abusive” environment, paired with he and his colleagues’ rejection of a proposed labor deal favored by sheriff Michael Saudino, led to Kara being laid off in June.

Kara is one of 22 Bergen County officers who claimed they were wrongly terminated or mistreated, but the only to allege anti-LGBT discrimination. In a class-action suit, the plaintiffs accuse Saudino of demoting and firing qualified officers out of spite after the labor deal, which would have dissolved the police union, was nixed.

“It’s direct retaliation, and it always has been,” Michael Peluso, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told NorthJersey.com.

Dozens of Bergen police officers rallied this week outside the county courthouse in support of Kara.

“Because of his sexuality, [Andrew] has had to face an onslaught of despicable and dehumanizing treatment at the hands of his colleagues and their supporters,” said Chris Weston, president of the Bergen County Police Union.

Unlike most of the other terminated officers, Kara still hasn’t found work with another law enforcement agency.

Gay Officers Action League president Brian Downey pointed a finger at the entire department.

“I have one pointed question to the people that did this to Andrew and for the people who turned a blind eye and the people in leadership roles that left him behind: If this is how you are treating one another, how the hell are you treating the public?”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
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