Pink diplomats celebrate ten years of Foreign Office gay group

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

In 1998, six people gathered in a gay bar in London to plan a revolution.

They wanted to challenge anti-gay practices in their workplace – and as employees of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, they soon had a plan.

The group they founded that night in The Yard celebrated its tenth anniversary last night, with a minister heaping praise on their achievements and original members remarking that all their objectives have been met.

FLAGG – the Foreign Office Lesbian and Gay Group – faced serious challenges when it started a decade ago.

While the outright ban on gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans people had been lifted seven years previously, there were still difficulties for staff who had not previously declared their homosexuality and many managers were resistant to change.

New recruits were joining an organisation where the files of gay staff where marked with tags and same-sex partners were invisible.

FLAGG was established in 1998 to engage FCO management on welfare issues and equal treatment for LGBT staff.

The FCO now has a dedicated Diversity Strategy Unit and an LGBT representative on the FCO board, both of whom meet and consult with FLAGG regularly on a range of issues. FLAGG also actively works with the FCO’s Human Rights and Good Governance Group on the promotion of the UK Government’s LGBT policy.

At an FCO reception last night, minister Gillian Merron said she was proud so much had changed under the Labour government, while FLAGG founders paid tribute to heterosexual colleagues who helped them make the Office a more fair place to work,