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“Still work to do in tackling discrimination in armed forces” says Shadow Armed Forces Minister

Today – Sunday 17 May – on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP praises progress made since the ban on serving was lifted but says there’s no room for complacency until all LGBT personnel can ‘thrive without fear of who they are’.

Since discriminatory rules were struck down by the European Court of Human Rights, the nation’s armed forces have launched major reforms to become LGBT inclusive, with all four branches of the British military – the Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Marines all marching together at Pride in London, dedicated recruitment campaigns launched, and efforts to challenge fears of homophobic attitudes.

These efforts have praised all services for their diversity and inclusion work in recent years, with all three making it into the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list.

Recognising the progress made, Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“IDAHOBIT gives us the opportunity to reflect on progress made in tackling hatred and discrimination affecting the LGBT community, and also take stock the challenges still to overcome.

20 years ago, Labour lifted the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces.

Since then, from dedicated staff networks to all services marching at Pride, from senior army officers being the face of Stonewall campaigns to our military services being recognised as amongst the best places to work, our armed forces have been on a long journey from a ban to being a beacon of best practice for the LGBT workforce”.

In a report commissioned last year by the armed forces, Air Chief Marshall Wigston found that a third of LGBT service people had faced negative comments or behaviour from colleagues because of their sexual orientation while at work, whilst the continuous attitude survey reports that 12 per cent of those surveyed were the victims of bullying, harassment or discrimination in the past year, but only six per cent made a formal complaint.

Evidence reflected in this report indicates a significant number of people in the military have experienced discrimination but have not felt able or been able to come forward to report it. The Armed Forces Ombudsman also found this week that the armed forces service complaints system is not ‘effective, efficient or fair’.

The challenges ahead, Shadow Armed Forces Minister added:

“While significant progress has been made, there’s still some way to go to ensure no individual faces hatred or discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and all LGBT personnel feel safe and free to be themselves.

That means continued efforts on education, leadership development and creating a culture in the forces where everyone can thrive without fear of who they are.

There’s no room for complacency. Today acts as a call to action for everyone who supports equality in our armed forces, and in wider society.”