Author: Army LGBT Forum

Transgender service in the British Army

Transgender service in the British Army

Message from Army LGBT Champion:

The British Army is proud to have many Transgender soldiers serving their country and I was proud to march alongside them at Pride this year. Like all soldiers, they are prepared to lay down their lives for their country. We are a stronger and better Army for being inclusive and we benefit from the rich diversity of all represented in the British Army.

Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders CBE DSO
Commander Field Army

Army LGBT Conference 2017

Army LGBT Conference 2017

This year’s Army Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender conference, at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, invited individuals to exam the status quo and look to the future asking; What does good look like?

In the weeks leading up to London Pride, the rainbow flag was raised above Army buildings across the UK, as a simultaneous display of support for the Army’s LGBT personnel and, as one of many diversity related initiatives, for wider inclusion. Considering from where we have come it was a bold move, but was it a sign that we have got to a point where we are no longer needed as a forum? As the Army’s LGBT Champion, Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders CBE DSO, recently stated, ‘Almost’.

This year’s conference looked at the issues LGBT personnel still face as a part of the forces community. We heard the incredibly sobering story from the Queer Angel, Elaine Chambers, how she and many others like her were persecuted. A story of admiration and bravery, those small few formed together ‘Rank outsiders’ and after a lengthy legal battle that went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, the ban on LGBT service was lifted on the 12 January 2000. It was they, who forged the way for us today and in order to keep moving forward, it is important to remember from where we have come, and it set the scene for other presentations and break out groups looking to the future.

There were updates on where we are going in the next 12 months from the Diversity and Inclusion policy team and from the Deputy Chaplain General on policy progress towards same sex marriage in military chapels. The UK Home Office spoke about their progressive Sexual Orientation Monitoring and shared best practice on visible role models from their LGBT network, Spectrum.

The afternoon provoked discussion and some interesting ideas as the delegates broke out into various sessions; discussing ‘what good looks like’ and the value and barriers to great take up of sexual orientation monitoring. There were briefs on the recruitment and management of Trans Soldiers, a progressive talk led by one of our own Army Chaplains on LGBT and Faith, being LGBT in the Christian church and on Domestic abuse in same sex relationships and adoption from SSAFA.

The closing address by Commander Field Army reaffirmed his commitment to driving forward an inclusive forces community, with ‘Almost, not being good enough’.

An Apology from Lt Gen Patrick Sanders…

An Apology from Lt Gen Patrick Sanders…

An Apology from Lt Gen Patrick Sanders, Army LGBT Champion

An Apology

I enjoyed and learned a great deal from the LGBT Forum at RMAS earlier this week. The speakers were thought provoking, inspiring and moving in equal measure. It was a reminder of how much we still have to do. Thank you all for your engagement and participation. But I have a public confession to make and also a personal apology; let me explain.

During the Q&A session at the end of the day I was asked why there weren’t more senior role models. During my answer I suggested that Col Viv Buck was in fact an exemplar of a senior role model. That would have been fine, if it was true, but it wasn’t. Col Buck is an exemplar of a senior ally, and a leading supporter of the LGBT Forum, but she’s not a role model. My mistake was to confuse the two, and thereby (mistakenly) imply her sexual orientation, and above all for failing to have the good manners to consult her first. So I want to apologise personally to Col Buck for doing so and to thank her for being so gracious in accepting my apology. And also to all of you for giving a misleading answer.

I really value what all of you involved in the forum do in supporting what I have set out to achieve in my statement, and like many of you Col Buck has played a vital role, so above all I want to thank her and all of you for all that you are all doing.

Lt Gen Patrick Sanders, Army LGBT Champion