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Royal Navy celebrates Pride in London with LGBT march through the capital

9 July 2017
LGBT+ men and women across the Naval Service joined their Army, RAF and civilian colleagues to march at this year’s London Pride.

The parade was the 11th annual event to be supported by the Royal Navy and saw around 1 million people in attendance.

The naval contingent was formed of men and women who are members of Compass – the Service’s sexual orientation and gender identity network which supports all those serving including reserves, civilians, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and all fighting arms of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

Organiser Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Mike Hill said: “I am proud to represent a diverse and inclusive Service which, alongside other government agencies and the emergency services, works to ensure the safety and security of our community and the nation.

“It's important we take part in events like this to show the public that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is no barrier to serving your country in the Armed Forces. It’s also important to show our people that we value their contribution, no matter what their orientation is.

"Supporting a record number of Pride events throughout the UK allows us to demonstrate our commitment to our diversity journey to the community we protect. Irrespective of background, all members of the Naval Service are valued for their unique skills and talents which drive improvements in our effectiveness as a fighting force."

Marching at Pride is the best feeling ever, and has led to some of my proudest moments in the uniform

Lt Cdr Hannah Mackenzie

Following the main Pride parade through central London, service personnel marched down Whitehall to salute the fallen at the Cenotaph in poignant recognition of the many LGBT people who have served Britain throughout history.

The march also marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed, which decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales.

Lt Cdr Hannah Mackenzie, one of those who took part in the march, said: “We need to demonstrate acceptance, visibility and pride for our people. Diversity and acceptance within the organisation means that the team works better, leading to increased operational effectiveness. Marching at Pride is the best feeling ever, and has led to some of my proudest moments in the uniform.”

Compass will also be supporting 15 other pride events around the UK, the largest number to date, supporting Naval Regional Commands in demonstrating diversity.

Brigadier Peter Cameron RM, LGBT+ Diversity Champion, said: “Through the example, action and bravery of LGBT personnel, evolution by institutional policy makers and leadership within all the Armed Forces we have moved a long way since when I joined the Royal Marines in the mid-1980s.

“For me, the whole issue is ridiculously simple. Respect each other. We all have differences – backgrounds, origins, education, experiences, skills – but in the Armed Forces it is about being drawn together in a common cause.

“Respect for individuals means they are able to give more of themselves to the team. We all benefit – and life is much happier for everyone than a culture of suspicion or excessive conformity. As society has become more tolerant so the attitudes of service personnel have generally shifted, and thus this message is much easier to get across than it has been hitherto.”

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