Afghanistan veteran with medals and child

15 years since the ban on LGB people serving was lifted

26 February 2015

Celebrating 15 years since the ban on LGB people serving was lifted

Ruth Hunt is CEO of Stonewall - a lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity. Stonewall’s commitment to supporting their members, including those in the military, is aligned with SSAFA’s commitment to supporting the whole Forces family. To celebrate LGBT History Month, Ruth tells us about the journey so far.


Celebrating 15 years since the ban on LGB people serving was lifted

Ruth Hunt is CEO of Stonewall - a lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity. Stonewall’s commitment to supporting their members, including those in the military, is aligned with SSAFA’s commitment to supporting the whole Forces family. To celebrate LGBT History Month, Ruth tells us about the journey so far.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on LGB people serving in the military. In January I attended a reflection and celebration evening to mark this occasion, where we joined by representatives of SSAFA, the Ministry of Defence, government ministers and many more. It was a moving event where I heard personal stories from people currently serving in the Army, RAF and the Royal Navy about their experiences of service before and after the ban was lifted. I was struck most by their intense sense of loyalty to their own service - even though they had most certainly not been made to feel included or valued back then.

Stonewall came together in 1989 as a professional lobbying group that would prevent such attacks on lesbians, gay men and bisexual people from ever occurring again. Since then we have contributed towards lifting the ban on LGB people serving in the military along with other major successes such as helping to achieve the equalisation of the age of consent, securing civil partnerships and then equal marriage legislation, allowing same-sex couples to adopt.

We have worked with all three Armed Services since 2008 as they are all part of the Diversity Champions programme. This year I was proud to announce that for the first time they had all been placed in the Stonewall Top 100 Best Employers List for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual staff. At Stonewall, we know that when lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are able to be themselves at work, their performance improves. They enjoy going to work, are more loyal, more creative and make greater contributions to the organisation. This is essential to the Army, Royal Navy and the RAF as operational effectiveness is their priority.

Stonewall is proud to be working with the Services and enjoy attending and adding value to their Equality and Diversity Conferences, walking with them when they march proudly at London Pride. SSAFA were there too and raised their flag alongside ours. We are also proud to work with SSAFA whose support for the whole Forces family includes helping same sex military couples adopt and they march alongside us at London Pride.