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Lord West: Gay members of the armed forces suffered ‘degrading treatment’ in the 90s

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  1. Well said Lord West, true leadership in righting this wrong when he could have probably got away with looking the other way.

  2. Shows how forward thinking the Senior Service was (compare to the former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt’s comments) , just a shame it took so long to accept LGBT personnel in the armed forces.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 9 Jul 2013, 5:51pm

      Yes, I hope Lord Dannatt took Lord West’s words to heart. I told Lord Dannatt after the second reading to think about a situation if one of his grand children turned out to be gay and having a grandfather who voted against his right to marry in the future, his own flesh and blood. I also told him his grand child would remember him for it and not a nice legacy to bequeath. His response to me was somewhat subdued and said he consider my words after having voted against the Bill in its second reading.

  3. Colin Andrew 1966 9 Jul 2013, 5:43pm

    Remember, it was the EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS that allowed gay people to join the British army. New Labour and the Tories were totally against it.

    1. GulliverUK 9 Jul 2013, 5:47pm

      Absolutely, “New” Labour fought against this until they saw the writing on the wall. I never allow them to get away with claiming they were in favor of this, and that they proposed changing the law – they didn’t, they were forced to. That is why we are indebted to the ECHR for some of our rights, and should be proud to be part of the Council of Europe.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 9 Jul 2013, 6:01pm

        And Labour didn’t voluntarily introduce CPs either, another ruling by the ECHR brought that about. Labour didn’t even adopt Equal Marriage as official party policy either even though without their support, the Bill would never have passed, I’ll concede that. More credit goes to Nick Clegg and David Cameron both of whom should receive a StonewallUK award as well as Lynne Featherstone, Baronesses Stowell, Thornton and Royall, Lords Alli, Fowler, Jenkin and Lester.

        1. GulliverUK 9 Jul 2013, 7:04pm

          Excellent idea about the awards. I’m not a Tory supporters because of their homophobic attitude, but also because of their attitude and behavior to others in society, and their economic ideology. Monetarism is an invented crock of *****, imagining you that controlling the money supply with the “M” levers controls inflation. BS. They seem to want to create a master and servant culture and I want an egalitarian society, and that cause is better served by Labour, the LibDems and The Greens.

          Labour never promised equal marriage at the last election, which was a kick in the teeth to us. Thank god they woke up to the mood. But there has also been a great deal of excellent Tory Lords supporting the bill, Fowler you mention, but Gummer has also been exceptional. I was so surprised, and then Lord West, amazing. It gives such hope that things are changing so that we might, one day, not be 2nd class.

        2. Except obviously, Cameron and Clegg supported it before Stonewall, not after. Remember Stonewall went to the Lib Dem conference in 2010 to argue against equal marriage.

        3. vversatile 10 Jul 2013, 7:48am

          Stonewall will never give Clegg or Cameron an award because Stonewall is completely partisan when in comes to party politics.

          Ben Summerskill used to be a Labour councillor for Westminster – his blind hatred of the other parties is such that he can never do business with them.

        4. Colin (London) 10 Jul 2013, 8:46am

          Great guys…love it.

          Now how do we get it out there so people take notice?

          1. I think many people deserve awards but not Mr. Cameron or Mr. Clegg or any politician for that matter.

            They are due our thanks, but let’s not go throwing a grand extrvaganza for people who were simply doing what was right, and what has always been right, so in effect their JOB. It’s like giving me a medal for saying “Well, I think women should have every damn right to vote”, or “people of colour should be able to sit wherever they damn well want on a bus”,,, hardly a reason to knight me the King of Equality now is it.

          2. Rosa Parks should get the medal, not Lincoln!

  4. Helge Vladimir Tiller 9 Jul 2013, 6:14pm

    Such degrading treatment has been going on in so many countries in our world ! ( Under different regimes— ) Tens of thousands of gay persons have been suffering in the worst possible ways. A big honour to this good Lord West for mentioning this fact in these days. Forwards lovely People of Britain !

  5. The police owe us an apology as well

  6. I was one of those people who suffered abuse and bulling in 1993. And was placed in prison and hospital because of my sexuality .

    1. Helge Vladimir Tiller 9 Jul 2013, 7:13pm

      Makes me sad to hear ! And reminds me of all the discrimination and violence I have been through. in my childhood and as a grown up person. By society, by police, by gangs in the streets, by the educational system in Norway- and so on, and so on. But I survived – and came out as a strong human being able to help other LGBTQ-persons today. Able to consider my friends in The UK as real fighters for their rights ! Simon, A BEAUTIFUL and WARM HUG TO YOU ! ( from Norway )

      1. I new I was gay before I joined the army. If I could turn back time! But it was a long time ago and it certainly changed me as a person. I’m so glad that nobody else has to suffer the same as the vile experience as I went thru.
        Thanks for the ( hugs) x

  7. I’m sorry to say that until now I had no idea who Lord West is. He seems a thoroughly decent man, and his words are very welcome.

    1. Lord Alan West was the commanding officer of HMS Ardent during the Falklands conflict, his brave men and his ship paid the ultimate price on 22nd May 1982 whilst under heavy air attack. He later became the First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy in 2002. He’s a thoroughly decent man and it was a pleasure to serve in the RN at the same time as him. I have always had a great deal of respect for him and his speech in the HoL only increased this.

  8. allwaysniceman 9 Jul 2013, 9:05pm

    I think, Lord West itself is secret gay: because only few straight man are so openly about homophobia in their living or working places. An absolute majority of them are totally silent and ignorant.

    1. A ridiculous and pretty offensive assumption.

    2. Good man. If you treat people in your mil with disrespect etc, it wil permeate the ranks and destroy morale.

      In the USA Tony perkins a kluxer from the hate group FRC said ending dADT was a tragedy for our armed forces

      the real tragedy was that perkins wasnt an abortion. He’s a stinking racist evangelical. as are all of his major empoyees eg Spriggs, Boykin etc

    3. Jock S. Trap 11 Jul 2013, 10:00am

      That kind of comment belongs in the playground.

      It’s pathetic and it’s bullying.

      It also shows you have no credible intelligence.

    4. Hey just because you and the vast majority of your stupid straight friends are silent and ignorant doesn’t mean the rest of us are.

  9. Slightly off topic – but the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill [HL] is scheduled for its Second reading on 19th July. Hopefully peers who support marriage equality will also support that legislation –!/calendar/Lords/MainChamber/2013/7/19/events.html

    1. only 63 years or so too late – turing committed suicide after being castrated about 1952. Winston Chruchill said that Turings code breaking of the nazi enigma machine prevented those maniacs – the more mordern Ghengis Kahn, from winning the war.

      Wonder what Lord Dear thinks about honoring Turing?

  10. Jan Bridget 9 Jul 2013, 11:43pm

    Would that more people in positions of power would apologise. I experienced witch hunts in the WRAF back in the late 60’s – it was a pretty horrendous experience that has stayed with me all my life. But there were also positive experiences from the six years I served.

    To be honest, I experienced just as appalling treatment as a youth worker by Lancashire County Council in the early 90’s and then again by Calderdale PCT only a few years ago. However, I cannot imagine any apologies from them. So well done, Lord West!

  11. Gay members of the armed forces did not just suffer in the 90’s.

    I lost my career in the early 80’s. The interrogation was to say the least intrusive. I was 19 years old at the time and ended up being sent to military prison (HMCT Colchester) for 42 days.

    The labour government continued to fight us in the ECHR, until I finally was offered a pittance of a compensation offer in 2008. It was less that 1/8th of my assessed losses

    One thing I wanted above all was an apology. Needless to say I didn’t get one. The only winners in this were the lawyers. Both the governments and ours.

    Today. If you are in CP they will give you married quarters and your spouse will receive all the same benefits as anyone else.

    How far we have come

    Why did Geof Hoon not order this to be settled in 96/97? It would have saved a great deal of money and a lot of pain and heartache.

    1. Helge Vladimir Tiller 10 Jul 2013, 7:04am

      Dear MarkB, I do hope Your experiences don’t in any way stop you from mowing forwards ! And that this hard life and the thoughts !! you connect to it have a strong taste of future. When we were born, we did not ask for an easy life-but for strong shoulders to carry a difficult life- Sorrow and distress is inevitable. We are able, you and I, to turn all those sad events into valuable memories telling us about what human beings are made of. Due to all my hardships ( my own father almost beat me to death in my childhood- even though I had an inborn heart error )- I have no contact with relatives or Family. BUT-GAY AND TRANSGENDER PEOPLE all around the world are my family- more valuable than anyone else ! And one nice person, MarkB, in the UK is a 100% included ! Love from Helge- Norway.

      1. Thanks Helge. Unfortunately that experience affected and marred my life from that point. try getting a job when you have been kicked out of the armed forces………

    2. Rhod Gates 10 Jul 2013, 8:19am

      Well we know New Labour sucked up hard to the tabloids, esp. The Sun. Presumably if they pursued gay rights 1997-2001, the tabloids would go mad and Blair would have worried about homophobes in marginal constituencies endangering a second term.

  12. I am a former Army officer. I wasn’t out. or even certain about my sexuality when I was serving (I think I probably knew) back in the 80s/90s.
    I am reading James Wharton’s Out in the Army and am struck — and warmed — by the completely different attitude of which he writes.
    He gets some ribbing (“For a poof you are bloody aggresive”) but no more so than anyone in the military would get.
    It is a testament to how far the army has come from the dark days as reported here.
    That book and comments by Lord West make me genuinely proud of our armed forces.

  13. In the 60/70s and much later the armed forces were paranoid about homosexuality; yet they ignored with a nod and a wink the many sexual antics of their straight members. In fact they almost condoned these antics.
    I know of one man who was suspected of being gay in the RN who was stripped and held naked in a freezing cell; and that simply because of a suspicion.
    It’s about time there was an outright apology from both the armed forces and the police.

  14. If we had a proper and just system of government, the senior military officers in charge during that homophobic period would be identified and arrested.

    1. GulliverUK 10 Jul 2013, 8:33am

      Some justice would be nice. But many of the police officers who implemented homophobic policies were given them by people like Lord Dear, who although he would himself have been more than glad to harass people who were gay, back in the 90s, got his orders from civil servants, who got them from ministers in Maggy’s government. And frankly, some of them probably got their orders from the Catholic church, and to a lesser extent the Anglicans – remembering that Carey was chief fascist 1992-2002.

      Likewise,senior military officers will have taken their cues from the government and laws at the time, and general rhetoric of ministers. Today, with the Human Rights Act, with case law, with greater understanding and thus acceptance, you hope that none of that could happen again. I think your idea about an apology is a good one – might help clear the air, provide closure, help the mending process.

  15. GulliverUK 10 Jul 2013, 8:22am

    We are still being very badly treated by the Anglican and Catholic churches – essentially by their leaders, not their followers, and by the Muslim Council of Britain, but not their followers. Then there are anti-gay lobby organisations, like Christian Concern, Christian Legal Defense, Christian Institute, etc., which are working to try to prevent our equality, and working hard. The Coalition for Marriage, which has worked so hard against us, is run by The Christian Institute, and it was almost certainly bankrolled by the Catholic church and possibly Evangelicals – wouldn’t that be a story, if we could find out those details.

    Also, we won’t have equal survivor pension benefits, so the government will have to come back in 5 years, put that right, and apologise. Education has also failed many people who are gay – difficult to learn when you’re being bullied all the time.

    There are a lot of apologies due. But I’m not even sure we would all want to accept these apologies when given.

    1. They will never apologise. Why? Because nobody will accept direct responsibility…

      But we must forgive. Not forget, but forgive. It’s the only way forward, we cannot hold grudges!

  16. I remember they used to stake out gay bars in Portsmouth to try and catch out sailors. It sounds silly nowadays, but it was all very sinister back then.

  17. Jonathon Brackenbury 10 Jul 2013, 10:04am

    Lord West was responsible along with other Service Chiefs for thousands of LGBT persons being dismissed from the Armed Forces…and also responsible for many thousands of abuse cases and brutal interrogations prior to the persons being dismissed….

  18. Jock S. Trap 10 Jul 2013, 10:42am

    Good for Lord West on speaking up for this.

    Seeing the difference between ex head of the Navy, Lord West and ex Police Commissioner of the Midlands Police Lord Dear is striking.

    Yet both must have seen the abuse that was put on us at the time… it’s a shame only one did something about it, for the betterment of people.

    Sadly Lord Dear still thinks we should be labelled as dirty and all rights removed….. funnily enough whilst still paying taxes.

  19. “shocked and appalled” I’m sure my ex partner will be warmed by those words after the way he was treated when it was discovered he was gay in the navy in the late 70s. His possessions thrown overboard by his so called friends and colleagues, raped in military prison, dishonorably discharged, outed to his family and a promising career over. Apologies don’t take away the hurt

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