The government has announced that LGBT military charity, Fighting With Pride, has been awarded a £350,000 grant to create the UK’s first commemoration of those in the LGBT community who served in the armed forces. 

Fighting with Pride has been instrumental in securing justice for veterans affected by the former Ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces. The Ban, which saw thousands of members of the Armed Forces impacted by being removed from service, was overturned in 2000. 

The announcement signals the delivery of one of the key recommendations in the LGBT Veterans Independent Review, which was commissioned by the government in 2022 to better understand the experiences, impacts and implications of the policy to ensure this community is effectively supported. 

The memorial is proposed to be situated in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a 150 acre site and part of the Royal British Legion. The Arboretum, the Nation’s year-round place to remember, is a place for lasting commemoration of the unique contribution of those who have served and sacrificed their lives in service, drawing visitors from all over the world. The memorial will commemorate all LGBT service personnel, including those impacted by the pre-2000 LGBT Ban, which saw thousands of members of the Armed Forces removed from service. 

Over the coming weeks Fighting with Pride will begin a UK-wide community consultation to gather ideas about how the memorial can provide a fitting, lasting and sustainable place to honour all LGBT serving personnel, veterans and families, including those who lost their careers because of the Ban. 

Craig Jones MBE, Chair of Fighting With Pride: “In the coming weeks Fighting With Pride will invite the views of the community to ensure the memorial is representative and a place for peace and reflection for today’s Armed Forces family. We are delighted and proud to have the opportunity to create this important memorial, our work on it will start quickly.  

“We’re committed to delivering a fitting memorial, but a great deal of work remains to be done to lift the veterans most affected by the Ban from the poverty inflicted upon them after the loss of careers. Too many face crippling debt, poor housing, social isolation and live with poor health and wellbeing. 2024 must be the year in which all 49 of Lord Etherton’s recommendations for reparation are delivered.”  

The Government has accepted the intent behind all 49 of the LGBT Veterans Independent Review’s  recommendations, including a financial award for the affected, and has already completed 28. The Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and Chiefs of Service have expressed the Government’s and Armed Forces’ deep regret and apologised publicly.  Veterans affected by the Ban can access up-to-date information on what support, services and restorative measures are available and how to apply and register for them. 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer, said: “We are proud of our LGBT veterans and grateful for their service in defence of our nation, and I am pleased that Fighting With Pride will help to deliver a memorial to honour them. We are committed to delivering on the recommendations made by Lord Etherton in his Independent review at pace, and this memorial will take us one step closer to doing so.” 

The intention to place the memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum reflects both the courage of generations of LGBT members of the Armed Forces and of their honour in the wider Armed Forces family. The memorial in Staffordshire would be expected to attract thousands of veterans, serving personnel and family members who have lost loved ones who served in the military during and after the Ban and were personally affected.