The British Army - STANDING ALONGSIDE LGBT
IN THE SUMMER OF 2016, THE MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE ARMY MADE A FORMAL DECLARATION “TO MAXIMISE THE TALENT OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL, REGARDLESS OF HIS OR HER RACE, FAITH, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY”.
Talent is the key word, as the Army adapts to the new challenges presented by an uncertain global situation. This recognition that talent is to be found in a diverse pool of individuals is very much part of the message given by the Army’s Diversity Champions. These senior officers work to promote and raise issues on behalf of minority groups. Last year, the work of Lieutenant General James Everard was recognised by the British LGBT Awards who awarded him the accolade of Corporate Straight Ally.
His successor as LGBT Champion is Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders who made this pledge in his first communication to the Army LGBT community: “I give you my word I will fight for you and stand alongside you.” In his 36 years of service General Patrick has commanded on operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and is well qualified to state that “Under fire; no one cares if someone is black or white, gay or straight, because they value the individual for who he or she is, what he or she can do, and because they are so utterly dependent on him or her.”
As a Stonewall Top 100 LGBT employer, the Army is proud to celebrate our LGBT personnel and last year we lit up the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where all Officers are trained, in rainbow lights during Pride week and a sizeable contingent of personnel from all three services marched at London Pride. LGBT Service personnel, keen to march proudly in uniform, have pressed for permission to take part in other LGBT Pride events around the country and this has now been given the go ahead.
What is clear is the sincere enthusiasm of Army personnel. no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity, to do their bit to promote LGBT inclusion. The 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, has been nominated for a National Diversity Award due to the unit’s overwhelmingly positive approach to diversity. The Battalion has a thriving LGBT community and Diversity Advocates throughout the unit, and encourage their personnel to be out and authentic at work. Also shortlisted for a British LGBT award this year is Warrant Officer Class Two Karen Styles for her work promoting LGBT in the Army. She was a passionate Chair of the LGBT Forum for two years and presided over an effective Forum.
Helping other organisations develop their policies on LGBT matters is part and parcel of promoting LGBT; Major Damian Jenkins was the guest speaker at a conference in Warsaw telling other European Armies how we have developed LGBT friendly policies since the ban on homosexuality was lifted in 2000. We haven’t forgotten about the “T” in LGBT – numerous organisations seek assistance from the Army policy team on how we have developed our transgender policies to ensure that transgender Service personnel are properly supported by their units throughout transition and beyond. We are lucky to have fantastic mentors in Captain Hannah Winterbourne and Sapper Mel Stott who have supported many soldiers. Thanks to them and the policies in place, those who come out as transgender feel they are able to continue with their military careers and be truly accepted by their colleagues.
The message is clear: Today’s Army is a place where you can be yourself and make the most of your talents.
WO2 KAREN STYLES
LT GEN PATRICK SANDERS, ARMY LGBT CHAMPION