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The UK Ministry of Defence is advertising a job for someone to promote LGBT+ inclusion – but there’s a major problem

Emma Powys Maurice August 18, 2020
Ministry of Defence slammed for hypocrisy over LGBT inclusion job

British armed forces march in London's Pride parade in 2008 (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

The UK Ministry of Defence has been accused of hypocrisy for advertising a role to promote LGBT+ inclusion while it provides military training to regimes that murder LGBT+ people.

The director of diversity and inclusion role will supposedly “inspire the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “root out inappropriate behaviours”, and comes with a hefty yearly salary of £110,000.

But many have pointed out the bitter irony of the job advert going live at the same time as a report exposing the number of homophobic regimes supported by British military training. The long, unfortunate list includes several countries that imprison or murder LGBT+ people, including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Uganda, Oman, and the UAE.

“LGBT+ people in Saudi Arabia face torture and death at the hands of forces trained by British troops,” said Symon Hill of the pacifist network Peace Pledge Union (PPU).

“They will not benefit from knowing that there is [someone] in the MoD nominally in charge of inclusion and diversity. LGBT+ people in Britain care as much about the rights of our siblings around the world as we do about equality in the UK.

“Militarism and queer liberation don’t mix.”

The diversity role is likely a response to the MoD’s Wigston Report, which found high levels of racist, sexist and homophobic bullying in the armed forces.

Yet the sheer absurdity of the MoD professing inclusivity while “literally training homophobic killers” abroad was noted by many in the LGBT+ community, including Zenab Ahmed from London.

“You obviously want institutions to be more diverse overall, and for people who aren’t straight to feel safer at their jobs,” she said.

“Yet the tone here is that the most one can and should do is make institutions more ‘inclusive’, regardless of what those institutions do, and their impact on people and their lives.”

She accused the MoD of operating in “a legacy of homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and racism and exploitation”, and reinforcing the societal trends even as it strives to become a more LGBT-inclusive employer.

An MoD spokesman told the Guardian: “All our defence engagement activity is designed to educate where necessary on best practice and compliance with international humanitarian law, and each defence relationship is taken on a case by case basis.”

More: criminalisation of homosexuality, Homophobia, Ministry of Defence, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, UK armed forces

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