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Coming out in the forces

ARMED FORCESThe journey to allow LGBT people to serve in the British military has been a long one. In the late 90s, Stonewall spearheaded the movement to rescind British military prohibitions against openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. It took over 10 years to achieve this but the ban was lifted in 2000 when a new general code of sexual conduct was introduced.

Scroll through armed forces multimedia media platforms today and they are keen to promote good working conditions for all existing and potential LGBT employees and ensure equal treatment. However, the reality can be very different. For example, if you have come out but are then the victim of bullying then approaching your commanding officer (CO) is unlikely to impress fellow serving soldiers.

Challenging underlying cultural and attitudinal values that allow discrimination to flourish simply doesn't change overnight, so without diminishing the significant steps the armed forces have taken in recent years it will take time.

The British Army
The British Army | Ministry of Defence
The British Army | Wikipedia

The Royal Airforce
Royal Air Force | Ministry of Defence
Royal Air Force | Wikipedia

The Royal Navy
Royal Navy | Ministry of Defence
Royal Navy | Wikipedia

The Army Reserve
The Army Reserve | Ministry of Defence
Army Reserve (United Kingdom) | Wikipedia

COMING OUTLGBT+ forces groups

Army LGBT+ Network
Website of the Army LGBT+ Network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers and LGBT people thinking of joining the Army.

 Fighting with Pride
Fighting With Pride supports the health and wellbeing of LGBT+Veterans, service personnel and their families – in particular, those most impacted by the ban on LGBT+ personnel serving in the Armed Forces prior to January 2000.

Proud 2 Serve
Provides support, information and networking to LGBT persons serving, ex-serving personnel and their families both at home and abroad.
No posts since 2018.

Royal Air Force
RAF LGBT+ Network's list of followers is unavailable.

News and articles

Rishi Sunak apologises for past ban on LGBT people serving in military | The Guardian | 19 Jul 2023

Royal British Legion apologises for past LGBTQ+ discrimination | The Guardian | 19 Apr 2022
LGBT military ban: Ex RAF navigator speaks of trauma | BBC News | 26 Jan 2022
LGBT military ban: 'I was marched off RAF base for being gay' | BBC News | 19 Jan 2022
 LGBT military ban: Veterans to share impact of rules in review, 20 years on | BBC | 19 Jan 2022
‘Admirals would say: we don’t want to serve with these people’ – Craig Jones, the sailor who came out and changed the navy | The Guardian | 12 Jan 2022
Alastair Bruce: 'When I joined the army it was illegal to be gay' | BBC News | 5 Aug 2021
LGBT in the forces: 'It was a very scary time' | BBC News | 26 Feb 2021
British soldiers sacked for being gay can get their medals back | The Guardian | 16 Feb 2021
Government apologises for historic ban on gay people serving in the armed forces | Sky News | 9 Jan 2020
Royal Navy marks 20 years since LGBT ban lifted | Royal Navy | 10 Jan 2020
UK armed forces recruits to be asked if they are gay | The Guardian | 11 Jan 2015
 On the same side: homosexuals during the Second World War History Extra | 8 Feb 2012
Gays in the military: The UK and US compared | BBC News | 2 Feb 2010
How the forces finally learnt to take pride | The Independent | 27 Jul 2009


Sexual orientation and the military of the United Kingdom Wikipedia
Sexual orientation and military service Wikipedia

Out In The Army: My Life as a Gay Soldier | James Wharton | Biteback Publishing | 2014
"A heartfelt account of a gay man’s journey from recruit to veteran, as well as a non-judgemental appraisal of an institution’s efforts to move with the times. On both counts, it is a worthwhile read." Soldier Magazine

Jeff Shenge: Striking Images of Gay Military | SuchIsLIfeVideos | 15 Nov 2010 3m24s

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