LGBT+ History: The Armed Forces

In 2000 The UK Government lifted the ban on LGBT+ people serving in the armed forces.

Prior to this, the Armed Forces Policy and Guidelines on Homosexuality stated that the homosexual lifestyle was “incompatible” with military life “because of the close physical conditions in which personnel often have to live and work, and also because homosexual behaviour can cause offense, polarise relationships, induce ill-discipline and damage morale and unit effectiveness”.

In September of 1999, the European Court of Human Rights found that the British Armed Forces had discriminated against LGB service personnel, by releasing them from service if it was found out that they were LGB.  The British Government stated that it would abide by the court ruling, and immediately lifted the ban, with changes coming into force on 12th January 2000.  This was years before the American Armed Services repealed their ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in 2011.

Currently Hannah Winterbourne serves as the British Army’s highest ranking Trans* officer. You can read more about her here: https://www.ft.com/content/5af4d0e0-a747-11e6-8b69-02899e8bd9d1

In February 2005, the Royal Navy joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, followed in November 2006 by the Royal Air Force and by the British Army the largest of the three services in June 2008, to promote good working conditions for all existing and potential employees and to ensure equal treatment for those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual.  At London Pride in 2008, all three armed services marched in the parade in uniform for the first time.

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