UK to Establish First Memorial for LGBTQ+ Armed Forces Personnel

The UK is set to honor its LGBT+ veterans with a groundbreaking initiative—the nation’s first memorial dedicated to LGBT+ armed forces personnel will be established at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. This historic undertaking has been bolstered by a significant government pledge of £350,000, underscoring a commitment to rectify past injustices faced by military personnel discharged or discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.

This initiative is one of the pivotal outcomes of the independent review led by Lord Etherton, which investigated the historical treatment of LGBT+ individuals in the military during the enforcement of the discriminatory ban from 1967 to 2000. The review culminated in 49 recommendations aimed at amending the wrongs inflicted by the ban, including the erection of this memorial.

The charity Fighting With Pride, which has been at the forefront of advocating for justice for affected veterans, will spearhead the development of the memorial. Scheduled for unveiling in May 2025, the memorial will stand as a beacon of remembrance and reflection within the expansive 150-acre arboretum, commemorating the “lost legion” of LGBT+ service members.

Craig Jones, the chair of Fighting With Pride, emphasized the memorial’s significance as a symbol of peace and reflection. However, he also highlighted the continuing struggles of many veterans who suffer from poverty, poor health, and social isolation due to the repercussions of the ban. Jones has called for the urgent implementation of all the recommendations from Lord Etherton’s review, stressing that 2024 should be a pivotal year for restoring dignity and support to those adversely impacted.

The memorial and its associated campaign reflect a broader governmental acknowledgment and apology for the decades-long ban, with key figures including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence Minister Ben Wallace issuing formal apologies and affirming their dedication to addressing the review’s recommendations.

As the UK moves forward with this tribute, it not only commemorates the service and sacrifices of its LGBT+ veterans but also reinforces a national commitment to diversity, inclusion, and justice within its armed forces.