Image of Victory Building at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban CREDIT MOD 090120.jpg
LGBTQ

British Military Marks 20 Years Since Lifting Of Ban On Gay Personnel

Today marks 20 years since the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel was removed.

Image of Victory Building at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban CREDIT MOD 090120.jpg

The British military has marked 20 years since the ban was lifted on lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) serving personnel.

A range of defence buildings have been lit up in rainbow colours to mark the anniversary, including Edinburgh Castle and Wellington Barracks.

The anniversary officially takes place today and has further been commemorated at the Houses of Parliament.

The Ministry of Defence also hosted a reception at the House of Commons on 9 January to pay tribute to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service personnel (LGBT), past and present.

Personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, as well as defence civil servants, were joined by senior figures in defence to commemorate the ban on LGB members of the forces being lifted on 12 January 2000.

The MOD's head office and Navy Headquarters donned rainbow colours to celebrate the anniversary.

Across Navy bases and Royal Marines units, rainbow flags have been flown from their main masts.

Royal Navy celebrate 20 years since LGBT ban was lifted CREIT ROYAL NAVY 100120
Serving Royal Navy sailors and Babcock workers at HM Naval Base Devonport also marked the anniversary (Picture: Royal Navy).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace reflected on how far the forces have come: "The Armed Forces have changed and evolved considerably in recent years to become the diverse, modern employer they are today.

"This anniversary is a timely reminder of the fantastic contribution the LGBT community makes to the military, and our commitment to creating a truly inclusive place to work," Mr Wallace added.

Image of the Ministry of Defence Main Building HQ in London, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban CREDIT MOD 09.01.20.jpg
MOD HQ in London, illuminated with rainbow colours (Picture: MOD).

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: "The only way to perform at your best in the Armed Forces is to put your whole self into what you do, which isn’t possible if you are hiding who you are.

"Our Armed Forces are moving towards being even more inclusive and accepting than ever before, ensuring we are equal opportunity employers.”

Twenty-years-ago personnel who were gay faced a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces.

Among many changes made since 2000, civil partnered couples now receive the same benefits as married couples, and since last year same-sex couples have been able to co-habit in all service accommodation.

Cover image: The Victory Building at HM Naval Base Portsmouth illuminated with rainbow colours (Picture: MOD).