Victorian police officer’s religious views deemed ‘offensive’

Sergeant Bruno Staffieri, a 62-year-old police officer with 36 years of experience with Victoria Police, has been dismissed from the force after being found guilty of misconduct.

According to media reports, Sergeant Staffieri was investigated over 10 comments made on social media and the force’s internal communication platform, known as Yammer, “some of which were allegedly critical of Victoria Police’s campaign to promote workplace equality for LGBTQ members”.

As reported in the The Age:

The veteran officer had also infuriated Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson, the state’s second highest ranking officer, who posted on Yammer in June 2021 that Victoria Police was proud to have been recognised as a silver employer at the 2021 Australian LGBTQ+ inclusion awards. 

Staffieri responded on June 23 by posting: “Yes I agree. Great achievement. But if the public knew how much time, effort and taxpayer dollars went into this, they would also be demanding why we didn’t get a gold.”

Paterson defended the campaign and denied it had received significant public funding.

Staffieri responded: “Sir, I totally value and respect your opinion and your rank, I simply ask that you value and respect mine.”

Paterson replied: “I don’t respect or value your views as they are offensive and there is no place for those views in Victoria Police … Either limit your comments on Yammer to comments that are respectful of everyone or consider your employment options.”

Mr Staffieri is also alleged to have made an online comment to an officer working in the Gender Equality and Inclusion Command:

So you are doing tertiary education studying genders. I’ll make it easy for you to pass … there are 2.

Following his dismissal, Mr Staffieri released a statement to the media:

“I’m obviously disappointed that I was dismissed after years of impeccable service, but I stand by my Christian beliefs.”

Mr Staffieri’s dismissal reveals the growing hostility towards Christianity within our public institutions and in the culture at large.  While promoting values such as “tolerance” and “inclusion”, certain views – such as orthodox Christian views on sexuality and gender – are being excluded. Indeed, this police officer was told in public by the Assistant Commissioner of Police that his views were not respected or valued, and in fact were considered “offensive”, and further, that there is no place in Victoria Police for these views.

Mr Staffieri was not dismissed because he failed to perform his duties as a policeman to the standard required by his employer, but rather because he dared express views which are not considered the “right” views.

Expressing opposition to gender ideology and querying the use of taxpayer funds regarding the promotion of such ideology should not result in someone being dismissed from a public service job in which they have served faithfully for 36 years.

The work of HRLA in defending the rights of ordinary people of faith who are being silenced, censored and fired for expressing their faith in public has never been more important.

Read more about the work of HRLA here.