Armed Forces: LGBT+ People

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 23rd May 2022.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to help encourage research examining the long-term impact of military sexual assault on LGBTQ+ survivors.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) does not recognise the term ‘military sexual assault’, nor the associated term ‘military sexual trauma’ and has, therefore, no plans to encourage research of the type described.

The MOD is committed to the welfare of all its people. The Armed Forces promote equity in Service for all those affected by sexual assault and abuse, and there are multiple forms of support and assistance available, both within and external to Defence, for all our personnel, including the LGBTQ+ community, both during and post-service.

Whilst in service, available support includes unit welfare officers, the chain of command, and pastoral support via the chaplaincy. Further assistance is also available via the Aurora service which provides confidential independent support to any serving member who is experiencing sexual violence, domestic abuse, or stalking. There is also Togetherall, an independent digital mental health support tool operated by the NHS in partnership with the MOD, through which Service personnel, veterans, and their family members can anonymously access tailored self-help courses.

Independent support is also available via the charitable sector. For example, SSAFA (The Armed Forces Charity) provides help to all Service personnel and veterans with any mental or emotional health concerns. SSAFA can signpost individuals to specific organisations for further targeted support. The MOD also works with The Samaritans and other charities to support Serving personnel, veterans, and their families.

For LGBTQ+ personnel specifically, Galop, for instance, operates helplines which facilitate access to caseworkers who can design tailored assistance for LGBTQ+ personnel who have experienced abuse and violence. Fighting with Pride also signposts sources of help for LGBTQ+ veterans, and works with a wide range of organisations.

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