UNITED KINGDOM – (04-20-22) – The Royal British Legion apologized publicly for its historical refusal to acknowledge the sacrifices of LGBTQ personnel of the British military.

For decades, LGBTQ activists have accused the Royal British Legion of homophobia, claiming it made it a mission to erase LGBTQ+ personnel from their contributions to British war efforts and to actively oppose queer remembrance efforts.

Now, the Royal British Legion is trying to make amends acknowledging the years of discrimination against its LGBTQ citizens willing to put their lives on the line for their country.

The Guardian Reported:
“I am deeply saddened by your previous experience with the charity, and I can only apologise on RBL’s behalf for not responding and the discrimination shown at the time,” the charity’s director general, Charles Byrne, wrote to Tatchell last week.

In the 2007 letter, the human rights activist said the RBL had accused his organisation OutRage! of “making political capital” out of Remembrance Sunday after its members laid a pink triangle wreath at the Cenotaph. Craig Jones: ‘The fact that I had come out didn’t just go around my ship quickly, it went around the whole damned fleet.’ ‘Admirals would say: we don’t want to serve with these people’ – Craig Jones, the sailor who came out and changed the navy

“Our observance of queer remembrance day was, you say, in ‘bad taste’. Who does the British Legion think it is? It is sheer arrogance for you to criticise and demean our act of remembrance. The gay community has as much right to honour its members who fought for freedom as the Black and Jewish communities, both of which pay respect to their war dead without being vilified by the British Legion.”

He said the RBL lacked the “decency to acknowledge the contribution of queer soldiers, sailors and aircrews to the allied victory over Hitlerism”, adding that the organisation refused to “officially admit that any homosexuals fought in the last war, let alone that some of them acquitted themselves with distinction”.

Finally addressing the concerns 15 years later, Byrne – who became the director general in 2016 – said the RBL had “very much changed”. He added: “The behaviour you outline of the RBL of the past is not tolerated in today’s organisation.”

While the ban on LGBTQ people serving in the Royal British Legion was lifted in 2000, discrimination still persist when it comes to LGBTQ British citizens serving in the  armed forces.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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