Armed Forces (Gay People)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th February 2013.

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Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton 2:30 pm, 25th February 2013

What support his Department provides to gay people serving in the armed forces.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

A wide range of support is available to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the armed forces, including LGBT forums and an employee network site, Proud2Serve, which provides them with a key communication tool. In addition, all members of the armed forces are supported by a network of equality and diversity advisers, who are trained to provide support on a range of equality and diversity issues.

Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton

At the turn of the millennium, the previous Labour Government ended the ban on homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel serving in our armed forces. Given that only one of the

Minister’s Defence colleagues voted in favour of equal marriage, can he explain what message he thinks that sends about this Government’s commitment to equality in our armed forces?

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I remind the hon. Gentleman that that was a free vote. With regard to the other issue he raised, we intend to introduce an option for members of the armed forces to record their sexual orientation on our joint personnel administration system if they so wish. I take it that that is a change he would welcome. In the meantime, we have expanded our recruit trainee survey to give personnel the option of providing their sexual orientation if they wish to do so.