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UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says he was ‘probably wrong’ to claim gay people cause ‘sexual friction’ in armed forces

Nick Duffy November 27, 2019
Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives in Downing Street in central London on October 16, 2019 for a meeting of the cabinet.

Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives in Downing Street in central London on October 16, 2019 for a meeting of the cabinet. (TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has dismissed his previous belief that gay people would “weaken” the armed forces as “rubbish.”

The Tory minister was challenged by the Scotland’s Press and Journal newspaper over views he had expressed in 1999 about gay people in the military, while he was sitting in the Scottish Parliament.

Writing in the same newspaper at the time, Wallace had criticised a European Court of Human Rights ruling that struck down the ban on gay people serving in the military.

The Conservative politician had claimed that “the military, such as the organisation operates, is weakened by introducing sexual friction between individuals.”

Ben Wallace says his past views were ‘a load of rubbish.’

Addressing his past comments, Wallace said: “What I would probably say is that the world has moved on, and I think, you know, I’d just say I was wrong on that observation.”

He added: “I think it was done, it had to be managed, the whole change from a deep rooted culture, and I think I probably was part of that culture.

“I think I’d look back and say: ‘Actually, you know what, what a load of rubbish really’.

“But you know I was part of that culture. Society has moved on. It’s a different world.”

Minister opposed same-sex weddings on military bases.

Despite claiming that his views about gay people in the armed forces have evolved, Wallace was one of just 98 MPs who voted against extending same-sex marriage to the UK’s overseas military bases in 2014.

He also voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2013, and abstained on the extension of equal marriage to Northern Ireland in July 2019.

Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace arrives for the Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on 16 October, 2019 in London, England.
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace arrives for the Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on 16 October, 2019 in London, England. (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Wallace has consistently voted against LGBT+ rights since becoming an MP in 2005, opposing the Equality Act and voting for IVF to require “a father and a mother.”

In September, Wallace restricted the military’s make-up policy to women, after a gender-neutral policy was proposed.

He told the Conservative conference: “Apparently the army is consulting on men being allowed to wear makeup.

“The answer is men will be allowed to wear makeup in the army as long as it’s camouflage colour. That will be about as far as they are allowed.”

More: ben wallace, equal marriage, minister, same sex marriage

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