No resignations over gay personnel says Navy

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The Royal Navy’s equality and diversity officer has said there is no evidence that anyone left the service in protest at gay men and lesbians being allowed to serve openly.

In 2000, the government removed the ban on gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the Armed Forces.

A document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act appeared to shed light on the worries some military personnel had.

A review by the Service Personnel Board from 2002, obtained by The Times, claimed that some had left the Navy over the issue and listed concerns over heterosexuals having to share showers and accommodation with gay servicemen and women.

However, Commander Graham Beard, speaking on behalf of the Royal Navy, said he had seen no evidence of staff resignations over the issue of gay personnel.

“I believe to the best of my knowledge that the statement is inaccurate,” he told the Western Morning News.

“I do not believe that elected personnel, due to that ban being lifted, resigned from their jobs.

“We have absolutely no records of that and I believe we would have if that had been so stated. Our teams go through those files with a fine tooth comb.”

The Service Personnel Board document claimed that a number of non-commissioned officers had left rather than deal with gay or lesbians.

Commander Beard said that “rumours” about the reasons some staff, who may also have been at the end of their time in the Navy, were leaving the service was probably why this was included in the report.

The report in fact said that only one departing staff member cited the removal of the ban on gay and lesbians as the reason for leaving.

Since the ban on gay and lesbian people serving in the British Armed Forces was lifted in 2000, there have been almost no reported problems.

The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme, which promotes best practice and gives organisations guidance and advice on how to create equality in the workplace.

Navy personnel appear at Pride events in uniform in order to increase visibility and encourage recruitment.

However, this year’s Pride London exposed deep division among the services over whether or not to march in uniform.

In June the Chief of the General Staff issued orders banning LGB Army staff from marching in unifom at the event or from wearing anything that would identify their Army role.

General Sir Richard Dannatt’s decision caused controversy at the Ministry of Defence and among the gay community.

Days later the Royal Air Force announced that personnel who wore uniform to march in the Pride parade in London would face disciplinary action.

The Royal Navy allowed sailors to march in uniform at Pride and used it as a recruitment opportunity.