Sponsored by SSAFA
22 June 22. Chair of the review into the treatment of LGBT veterans announced. The government announces The Rt Hon. The Lord Etherton PC, Kt as chair of the review examining the experience of LGBT veterans affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the armed forces.
Lord Etherton PC QC has been appointed as the chair of the independent review into the impact the historic ban on LGBT military personnel had on veterans.
The review was announced by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Defence Secretary as part of the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan in January. The independent review will provide the opportunity for the Government to better understand the lived experience of LGBT veterans, who served prior to 2000, including how being discharged from the military because of their sexuality affected their life.
The announcement of the chair of the review forms part of the Government’s wider measures for veterans this Armed Forces Week. In January, the Government launched the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan of more than 60 commitments backed by an extra £70 m. Significant progress has been made with more than a fifth of commitments already completed after just six months.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: “The historic ban was wrong and those who were thrown out of the military purely because of their sexuality suffered and we acknowledge that. This review will help us better understand the impact and I am delighted that the highly eminent Lord Etherton will be chairing it. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the review and reviewing the recommendations.”
Lord Etherton is a crossbench member of the House of Lords. He was formerly Master of the Rolls, the President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal and the Head of Civil Justice in England and Wales. He has served as chair of the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Chancellor of the High Court. He is an honorary professor of law at Birkbeck, London University. Lord Etherton was the first openly gay judge of the Senior Courts. He entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and a same sex marriage in 2014.
The Rt Hon. The Lord Etherton PC, Kt, QC said: “I am extremely pleased to be appointed as the chair of the independent review into the treatment of LGBT veterans by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Defence. This is an important review that will provide an opportunity for veterans across the country who were affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality to share their testimonies in a safe environment. This will allow me to make measured recommendations as to how the government can meet their commitment to ensure that all veterans’ experiences are understood and valued.”
From this, the review team will make evidence-based recommendations as to how the government can meet its commitment in the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan and ensure the service and experience of every LGBT veteran is understood and valued. Lord Etherton is expected to report his recommendations next year.
The review follows steps the Government has already taken to enable those who forfeited medals for reasons relating to their sexuality to apply to have them returned. The Home Secretary also announced an expansion to the scope of a scheme which enables those with historic convictions for same-sex sexual activity to apply to have their caution or conviction disregarded. The expansion will greatly increase the number of veterans able to benefit from the scheme.
Joint CEOs of Fighting With Pride Craig Jones MBE and Caroline Paige said: “The LGBT Veterans Independent Review brings hope to veterans who served at a time when they were not welcomed in the Armed Forces as LGBT personnel are today. They have faced immense challenges in their lives in consequence of the ban and today’s announcement brings hope for a better future.”
Fighting With Pride looks forward to working with Lord Etherton as he begins the important work of hearing evidence from those who lost careers, homes and families in the years of the ban and for whom the impact endures. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
20 Jun 22. Armed Forces Week: Making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran. An opinion piece by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, published in The Express to mark the start of Armed Forces Week. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, it was rare to see individual military personnel out and about on the streets in their uniforms in a way that we do today.
The terror threat to our service men and women from the IRA meant that the camouflage fatigues – a visual symbol of national pride, unity and belonging for those who serve – were often banned from being worn outside of military bases.
My first real memory of our armed forces and the significant sacrifice they make on our behalf therefore didn’t come until I was 10 years old.
Margaret Thatcher had just dispatched a Royal Navy taskforce to the Falkland Islands and each evening I would crouch in front of the living room TV to watch the news reports filed by the attached press corps.
I remember the striking footage of the Harrier jump jets scrambling from HMS Hermes to the now infamous words of BBC war correspondent Brian Hanrahan: “I counted them all out, and I counted them all back.”
And of course, the jubilant scenes of the aircraft carrier’s safe return to Portsmouth 108 days after she left, the dockside flanked by thousands of people waving Union Jacks.
It is those early childhood memories of sacrifice, pride and duty that came through so clearly on our TV screens – coupled with the lived experiences of those veterans I meet on a weekly basis – that underpin my ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran.
But if we talk the talk of that ambition, we must walk the walk.
So that’s why, as we move towards the national celebration of Armed Forces Day this coming weekend, we are investing in a new digital identification service for veterans. This will enable government services and our fantastic charity sector to better identify and prioritise our veterans.
Coming on top of Operation Courage, the more than £18m investment to get veterans access to better mental healthcare, the ID service will deliver real change, giving us the capability to identify veterans and get help more quickly to those who need targeted support in health, housing or employment.
We are also taking steps to maximise the employment opportunities for the veterans’ community, recognising that the unique skills they have make them ideal recruits for a range of jobs in areas such as cyber security and logistics.
All government departments now offer a scheme that guarantees veterans progress to the next recruitment stage, with 800 ex-military personnel so far being offered a variety of roles across the Civil Service.
And we know the positive impact veterans can have on those who have strayed from the straight and narrow, which is why we have launched a scheme to recruit them as prison officers.
For every veteran I meet, for every individual story I hear, access to support and employment services are the most pressing issues that they want to see resolved.
Nearly six months on from the launch of our Veterans Strategy Action Plan, backed by £70m of funding, we can be encouraged that we have already delivered over a fifth of the 60 commitments we made.
We must now harness that progress and I am committed to keeping veterans at the heart of this Government’s agenda so that those who have given so much for us do not feel invisible or left behind. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.