Formerly separate events, the Civil Service LGBT Summer Forum and the Tri-Service Annual LGBT Conference have been combined into today’s annual conference to create a cohesive approach to issues affecting the LGBT community within the Armed Forces and the MOD.
The amalgamation also provides an opportunity to closely align the conference with London Pride 2010 which takes place tomorrow, Saturday 3 July.
The one-day conference is providing delegates with updates on how the Single Service LGBT Forums are progressing, and includes discussions on best practice within the workplace and where the LGBT community will be in ten years and how they will get there.
Holding the conference in Main Building is seen as a massive step forward with regard to equality and diversity within the MOD and how members of the LGBT community are viewed within the Department.
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel), Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, who gave the opening address at the conference, said:
Equality and diversity policy teams are constantly reviewing, assessing and refining our policies to ensure that all MOD personnel are given the chance to work in an environment which is free from harassment, intimidation and bullying, where they’re treated at all times with dignity and respect.
We can only effect those changes to policies with your continued input and advice. New policies are only successfully implemented when they are driven by strong leadership at all levels. All leaders and managers, regardless of their status within the MOD, should recognise the value of a diverse workforce.
We must promote positive attitudes and behaviours and ensure that they have the moral courage to take action when they encounter those whose attitudes and behaviours fall below the high standards that we demand.
The misgivings surrounding the lifting of the ban have not materialised. Acceptance has grown to the point that being gay is much less of an issue. Yes, there are pockets of ignorance, and we will continue to educate.
As part of the conference, delegates were briefed on tomorrow’s London Pride march and informed that, in keeping with previous years, a contingent of approximately 80 to 90 uniformed military personnel will participate in the event.
Vice Admiral Wilkinson said:
Attendance at London Pride is an opportunity to send a clear message that you are valued members of the Armed Forces and the MOD. You’re proud to carry out the work that you do and proud to wear the uniform of your respective Services.
It helps to prove that the MOD is a inclusive employer of choice which welcomes and actively champions diversity in its workforce.
Tomorrow’s march will follow previous years, with the military contingent peeling off from the main march at Trafalgar Square in order to proceed down Whitehall and pay respects to fallen comrades on passing the Cenotaph.
A recruiting stand manned by a combination of uniformed RAF recruiting staff from the London area and serving RAF LGBT personnel will be located in Leicester Square for the duration of the Pride event.