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’.

Comments are closed.