Army General says gay soldiers make military ‘more effective’

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An Army General has urged more LGBT people to apply to join the military, saying that diversity helps make the Army more effective.

Lt Gen James Everard made the comments after the British Army admitted that close to zero new recruits have officially designated themselves as LGBT, since monitoring began last year.

The head of British land forces told the Financial Times that “diverse teams” can be “far more effective than bog-standard teams”, due to the different skills they bring.

The general added: “[Diversity] in our ranks gives us a breadth of understanding and capability we don’t get in any other way … we need to reach into [places] that probably people would have said were non-traditional – away from the working class of Middlesbrough and all that sort of stuff and into a more diverse and broader range of characters. That’s hugely important for us.”

Of the reasons to recruit more LGBT soldiers, he said that “operational effectiveness is at the top of the pile”.

Since beginning the monitoring of sexuality and gender identity, just 230 troops have designated themselves as LGBT.

The General added: “I think that’s probably woefully low but actually there are more people that come to the [LGBT] meetings that are gay than have declared they are gay — so that’s probably just a confidence thing.”

Of resistance to gay soldiers among existing troops, he cited experiences of gay people working successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said: “Those that were slightly frightened of what they didn’t understand; what they learned from those wars, there they fought alongside gay people, was that you can be homosexual and extremely brave … people came back saying, these guys are part of the team.”

“Like most problems, [fixing] the first 70 per cent is quite easy. It’s closing out the last 30 per cent [which is hard] … and that’s to do with attitudes.”