UK’s first ever memorial to LGBT armed forces personnel to be created

The first ever memorial for the “lost legion” of LGBT people who have served in the armed forces will be created, following the review into historical mistreatment of service personnel.

LGBT veterans charity Fighting with Pride has been awarded a £350,000 grant to create the memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The charity has spearheaded efforts to get justice for veterans affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the armed forces.

Review into treatment of LGBT veterans
Craig Jones MBE, co-director of Fighting With Pride, a charity which supports LGBT veterans said they are ‘delighted and proud’ to have the opportunity to create a memorial (Craig Jones/PA)

The ban saw thousands of members of the armed forces removed from service, some of whom faced violence and abuse as a result of their sexuality.

It was overturned in 2000, but only last year did Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologise on behalf of the Government for the historical mistreatment LGBT service personnel faced.

Craig Jones MBE, chair of Fighting With Pride, said: “In the coming weeks Fighting With Pride will invite the views of the community to ensure the memorial is representative and a place for peace and reflection for today’s Armed Forces family.

“We’re committed to delivering a fitting memorial, but a great deal of work remains to be done to lift the veterans most affected by the ban from the poverty inflicted upon them after the loss of careers.

“Too many face crippling debt, poor housing, social isolation and live with poor health and wellbeing. 2024 must be the year in which all 49 of Lord Etherton’s recommendations for reparation are delivered.”

Ministers have promised to deliver “the intent” behind all recommendations from the LGBT Veterans Independent Review led by Lord Etherton, which includes financial awards for those affected by the ban.

They have previously been urged not to place a limit on financial awards for veterans.

Budget 2024
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer praised LGBT veterans and Fighting With Pride (James Manning/PA)

It will commemorate all LGBT service personnel, including those impacted by the historical ban.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said: “We are proud of our LGBT veterans and grateful for their service in defence of our nation, and I am pleased that Fighting With Pride will help to deliver a memorial to honour them.

“We are committed to delivering on the recommendations made by Lord Etherton in his independent review at pace, and this memorial will take us one step closer to doing so.”

Efforts to build the memorial were welcomed by the family of Captain Professor Sir Michael Howard, an eminent historian who was awarded the military cross for services in the Coldstream Guards during the second world war

Sir Michael, who was gay, advocated for lifting the ban and for equal rights in the armed forces before his death in 2019.

Maddy Howe, his niece, said: “Michael would have been immensely proud to see this lost legion of veterans from our armed forces remembered and he would have been particularly pleased to see this memorial provide a special place of remembrance for the future generations of our armed forces and their families.

“All of Michael’s family are hugely proud of him and will be delighted to visit the memorial when it’s ready. It’s a very moving prospect.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –