This June, to coincide with Armed Forces Day, LGBT Foundation has launched Operation Equality, our befriending service for LGBTQ+ Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. The launch event was attended by representatives from a number of organisations representing LGBTQ+ people in the military, including Fighting with Pride and Armed Forces Wellbeing Network, as well as members of the public. The event was officially endorsed by the Ministry of Defence.
While great progress has been made in achieving equity for queer people in the UK, it is easy to forget how recent some of the changes are – it wasn’t until January 2000 that gay and lesbian personnel were allowed to openly serve in the Armed Forces. Prior to the change, queer people in the military could not come out without risking their careers and had no recourse in the event of bullying or harassment on the basis of their sexuality. Many were outed without their consent, with invasive searches and investigations being commonplace.
Though the ban has been lifted, the memory of it is fresh, with many veterans still carrying the weight of its impact on their lives and careers. Operation Equality aims at tackling loneliness and building a community for LGBTQ+ military personnel who may otherwise feel alone or isolated. It has already seen great success in its early stages and is now open to both volunteers and future service users.
If you’d like to volunteer to be a part of the Operation Equality programme, or if you feel that you may be able to benefit from this service, please get in touch with our project coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org.