Pages

Friday, June 30, 2006

Gay Sailors March in London at EuroPride

Gay Sailors March in London at EuroPride

U.K. gay and lesbian naval personnel will march in full uniform for the first time at EuroPride on Saturday. More than 40 sailors, ranging from able seamen to Royal Navy Reserve commanders, will participate in the parade in London. It's the first time that any military organization in the world has allowed gay and lesbian recruits to march in uniform at such an event.

The naval contingent will actually lead the parade. This inaugural event comes six years after a landmark ruling to allow gay people to serve openly in the British armed forces.

"They will not be marching in a parade formation, but they will be walking smartly and in full uniform with medals," said Cmdr. Graham Beard, the Navy's diversity spokesman. "We strive to support our lesbian and gay community, and this is a massive step forward for us."

In 1999, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that gay people had a legal right to serve in the armed forces. Before then, they faced being ejected if their sexuality was discovered.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's chief executive, said the Navy should be congratulated for its gay-friendly policies, and he hoped the Army and Royal Air Force would follow the example. "We are delighted that so many naval personnel feel able to march on Saturday and feel comfortable about doing so," Summerskill said. "There are an awful lot of young recruits who would like to be in the military, and this sends the right message."
Lt. Cmdr. Craig Jones, one of the Navy's most senior openly gay officers, is helping to organize the march.
"I've been looking forward to something like this happening for four or five years," he said. "There were countries that accepted gays into the services before us, but we're the first to do this." Gay news for the Queer Australian

2 comments:

Neil Bullett said...

This is excellent news and a step in the right direction.
On the negative side please be aware that the Ministry of Defence are still fighting a handful of cases, which were discharged under the ban. At present there is no more than approximately 20 cases out standing. So its like giving out medals before the battle has been completely won!

Neil Bullett said...

This is excellent news and a step in the right direction.
On the negative side please be aware that the Ministry of Defence are still fighting a handful of cases, which were discharged under the ban. At present there is no more than approximately 20 cases out standing. So its like giving out medals before the battle has been completely won!