The MOD main building is lit up in rainbow for the weekend of the 20 year anniversary

20 years: Shining a spotlight on our LGBT+ Armed Forces personnel

This week marks 20 years since the ban on serving lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) personnel in the UK Armed Forces was lifted. Since this landmark ruling, LGB personnel have been welcomed and supported, and form a vital part of our Armed Forces.

Sgt Alastair Smith-Weston (Smudge)

“Take a look at London Pride, there are hundreds of us in the military and we are all treated as equals. You might have met a service member down the pub and they may not have told you they were LGBTQ+. We are the same as every other service member we serve alongside and we are treated with respect and understanding.”

Cpl Charlotte Davies

“When I first joined up, someone’s sexuality wasn’t really spoken about but as time has gone on people have become more open. I prefer people asking questions as it’s the only way to educate people and get the right information out there. I have loved my time in the RAF, I have been all over the world with my job and RAF sport and made lifelong friends. It has been challenging at times and it has made me a better person.”

“Even though I can be myself at work, there are still people elsewhere who are unable to be themselves and they carry that side of themselves locked up in a box. Being able to celebrate who they are is a massive thing. It’s important to keep fighting for that so that no one feels they have to lock their personality away because that’s exhausting.”

AB1 Thomas Smythe

“As a 20 year old bisexual, I feel lucky to have joined the Navy when it was legal and have never had any issues. I try to get involved in lots of networks because I’m confident about being bisexual but there are people who are still in the closet. I’m hoping that by me doing all this they can think that ‘actually, it is safe for me to be who I am.’

“If you are LGBT and worried about that affecting your career, it doesn’t. As long as you can do your job, that’s what matters. You’ll go to sea, you’ll go to shore and have some laughs and good times. They don’t care what your orientation is — you’re part of the Navy and that’s the key.’”

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Ministry of Defence

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