The Australian Department of Defence has adamantly defended its production of pride flag cufflinks and lapel pins for soldiers.
An Army Reserve soldier from Queensland, Major Bernard Gaynor, hit out at the decision to have the pieces made, saying that it is inappropriate for them to be used for a “political cause”.
He said that the department is “wasting taxpayer dollars on jewellery to promote homosexuality”.
“The rising sun badge is a symbol of the Australian Army and is loved and respected by Australians of all walks of life,” Major Gaynor said. “It is an insult to all current and former serving personnel for the rising sun to be linked with the political campaign for homosexual marriage.”
The Defence Department said the pins and cufflinks were developed in order to show that the Australian Defence Force respected diversity. Endorsed pieces are allowed to be worn on special occasions.
“Workplace inclusion for all ADF members is a high priority for Defence as it undergoes cultural change,” a Defence spokeswoman said.
The description on the lapel and cufflinks reads: “On the Army Pride Lapel Pin the colours of the Rainbow Flag proudly surround the Army’s Rising Sun. Together these elements are symbolic of Army as an inclusive organisation that respects diversity and supports our LGBTI soldiers and officers.”
“The Army Pride Lapel Pin: – Celebrates Army’s commitment to supporting our LGBTI soldiers and officers – Promotes Army’s vision for an inclusive organisation – Embodies Army’s core value of ‘Respect’”
The army has produced about 1000 pride lapel pins and 250 sets of cufflinks, and has previously produced an indigenous pin to recognise the contribution of Aboriginal soldiers.
This year the Army was allowed to march in Sydney’s Mardi Gras in uniform for the first time.
“It’s the only time people have been allowed to march in a political rally in uniform,” Major Gaynor said, however. “It’s not appropriate for the ADF to be linked to political activism.”
The Chief of the Army Lietenant General David Morrison has issued a strong warning, however, that members of the Defence who refuse to accept efforts to take on board cultural change should “get out” of the military.