LGBT Charity Fighting With Pride to lead creation of LGBT Armed Forces Community Memorial

The announcement follows a recommendation made in last summer’s judge-led independent review by Lord Etherton

Today (25th April 2024) the government is announcing that LGBT military charity, Fighting With Pride, has been awarded a £350,000 grant to create the UK’s first commemoration of those in the LGBT community who served in the armed forces.

Fighting with Pride has been instrumental in securing justice for veterans affected by the former Ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces. The Ban, which saw thousands of members of the Armed Forces impacted by being removed from service, was overturned in 2000.

Today’s announcement signals the delivery of one of the key recommendations in the LGBT Veterans Independent Review, which was commissioned by the government in 2022 to better understand the experiences, impacts and implications of the policy to ensure this community is effectively supported.

The memorial is proposed to be situated in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a 150 acre site and part of the Royal British Legion. The Arboretum, the Nation’s year-round place to remember, is a place for lasting commemoration of the unique contribution of those who have served and sacrificed their lives in service, drawing visitors from all over the world. The memorial will commemorate all LGBT service personnel, including those impacted by the pre-2000 LGBT Ban, which saw thousands of members of the Armed Forces removed from service.

Over the coming weeks Fighting with Pride will begin a UK-wide community consultation to gather ideas about how the memorial can provide a fitting, lasting and sustainable place to honour all LGBT serving personnel, veterans and families, including those who lost their careers because of the Ban.

Craig Jones MBE, Chair of Fighting With Pride:

“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 are delighted and proud to have the opportunity to create this important memorial, our work on it will start quickly. 

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.” 

The Government has accepted the intent behind all 49 of the LGBT Veterans Independent Review’s  recommendations, including a financial award for the affected, and has already completed 28. The Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and Chiefs of Service have expressed the Government’s and Armed Forces’ deep regret and apologised publicly.  Veterans affected by the Ban can access up-to-date information on what support, services and restorative measures are available and how to apply and register for them.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, 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.”

The Minister of Defence People and Families, Dr Andrew Murrison said:

“I am pleased that Fighting With Pride has been named as the winning bid to construct the LGBT community memorial, a key recommendation from Lord Etherton’s review. Our LGBT personnel are a key part of our Armed Forces community, and it is only right that those who have served, or continue to serve, are recognised through a national memorial.

“We are committed to righting the wrongs of the past and we are delivering the recommendations from Lord Etherton’s review at pace.”

The intention to place the memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum reflects both the courage of generations of LGBT members of the Armed Forces and of their honour in the wider Armed Forces family.

The memorial in Staffordshire would be expected to attract thousands of veterans, serving personnel and family members who have lost loved ones who served in the military during and after the Ban and were personally affected.

This project bears some similarities to the National LGBT memorial project in Canada, but in the UK will be specific to Armed Forces communities.

Those affected are encouraged to complete an Application and Registration of Interest form.

The government is encouraging engagement and reconnection between veterans affected by the Ban, the Services and their Service LGBT networks. Affected veterans are invited to find ways to engage with the Services on the LGBT veterans: support and next steps – GOV.UK page.

Captain Professor Sir Michael Howard was Britain’s most eminent military historian of his generation, becoming Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University. He was awarded the Military Cross for services in the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War.  He himself gay, Sir Michael died in 2019, having towards the end of his career advocated for lifting of the Ban and equal rights in the armed forces.

Maddy Howe, niece of Captain Professor Sir Michael Howard:

“Michael (my uncle) 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 Michaels family are hugely proud of him and will be delighted to visit the memorial when its ready. Its a very moving prospect.”

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