Marc Edwards, a member of the LGBTQ+ Royal Legion branch, has said that LGBTQ+ personnel still “suffer persecution” whilst serving in the Armed Forces.
The Royal British Legion has marked the anniversary of the end of the ban on LGBTQ+ people joining the Forces by creating a LGBTQ+ and Allies branch, which will highlight the services available to the group.
Mr Edwards told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “The situation [for LGBTQ+ community] is getting better but looking at the statistics and knowing people that are serving, the LGBTQ+ community still suffer persecution in different ways whilst they are serving.
“Unfortunately not everyone has a positive service and there still are people who will bully and victimise.
“Bullying and victimisation still happens every day not just in our armed forces, but in schools and workplaces. That is one of the things our new branch of the Legion is going to tackle.”
The Legion describe the new branch as acting as a “safe space” for the LGBTQ+ community.
talkRADIO’s Kevin O’Sullivan asked: “Do military heroes really need safe spaces?”
“Absolutely”, Mr Edwards responded before adding: “I think everyone needs safe spaces to be who you want to be. It is extremely important and to be comfortable being who you are is also important.
“The words ‘safe space’ can be looked at in a couple of different ways. The branch itself is not to be referred to as a centre. We have got 16 pop-in centres all around the country and they are your safe spaces.
“The branch itself is more a community forum for us all to be able to get together and discuss these problems we have highlighted.”
'Old men waving flags'
Marc Edwards from the Royal Legion's LGBTQ+ branch said the poppy would always remain red.
When Wright asked if the Legion would be attending Pride, Mr Edwards said “yes, up and down the country”.
He added: “We have a Legion Diversity Champion now working with Stonewall. She is working with Stonewall and the Armed Forces to bring the Legion up to date.
“We have got an image of old men waving flags so we just want to break from that mould.”
Mr Edwards said that the Legion would always keep the poppy red so there would not be a “rainbow poppy” but that the branch had already put the freedom flag in the background of photos on their social media.