More to do, Forces

We all know how easy it is to gain “accreditation” for some kind of award by going through a questionnaire and ticking all the right boxes, and gaining an award for being a gay friendly employer because you have all the right words in your personnel policies.

What is really important is what things are actually like for gay and lesbian people where they work, and that often paints a completely different picture of so called award winning organisations.

The gap between the policy and reality is the measure of how much more there is still to do and achieve.

An SAS soldier claims underlying prejudice against gay personnel is hampering their promotion – despite a senior general saying he wants to spearhead sexual equality.

The decorated soldier says he was pushed aside for promotion to sergeant – despite his outstanding military pedigree on operations – because many senior officers refuse to accept gay soldiers in the elite regiment.

The experienced special forces Corporal was listed for a promotion board to sergeant after returning from operations last year, but while many of his colleagues were successful he failed and was told he needed to gain more time on operations.

But just three weeks after the promotion board sat the soldier, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was told by a close friend that senior officers had discovered that he was gay and that had affected his chances.

Come on, Forces.


How much progress has there been, then?


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Pink News reports the result of a You Gov poll checking the attitudes towards homosexuality and gay relationships.

The poll of 1,609 adults found that 42 per cent believe that gay sex is not natural, 48 per cent believe that primary school children should not be taught about gay relationships in school, and 36 per cent disapprove of gay men becoming parents.

78 per cent of people aged 18-24 believe that gay sex is natural while 69 per cent of people aged 65 and above believe that gay sex is unnatural.

Man accused in gay bar

Police were called to a gay bar in Canterbury after a man was confronted by a self-styled paedophile hunting group, reports Kent Live.

Internet Interceptors approached a man on live video at Limes Lounge and Diner in Rosemary Lane, alleging he arranged to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Transitioning to be reviewed

The government proposes that trans people should be able to choose their legal sex more easily.

Reforms making it easier for transgender people to legally choose their sex by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and speeding up the bureaucratic process of changing sex will go out to consultation this autumn.

Trans people currently have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender. They also have to convince an intrusive interview panel. This is now widely viewed as demeaning and discriminatory.

Gay blood ban relaxed again

Gay men in England will be allowed to donate blood three months after having sex instead of a year. Medical advances mean the time limit will be reduced again in England and Scotland.

The limit has been one year since it was readjusted in 2011.

Sex workers were barred from donating, but they now will be able to, subject to the same three-month rule.

The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs – which advises UK health departments – recommended the changes after concluding that new testing systems were accurate and donors were good at complying with the rules.

Prof. James Neuberger, from the advisory committee, said: “Technologies to pick up the presence of the virus have greatly improved, so we can now pick up viruses at a much earlier stage in the infection, and therefore it’s much easier to tell if a blood donor has the virus.”

The new limits will take effect at blood donation centres in Scotland in November, and in early 2018 in England.

The changes mean that men who have sex with other men, people who have sex with high-risk partners – for example, those who have been in areas where HIV is common, and commercial sex workers will be able to donate blood after abstaining from sex for three months.

The rules around people who have undergone acupuncture, piercing, tattooing and endoscopies, and for those with a history of non-prescribed injecting drug use, are now being reviewed, but those are European rules and are subject to EU legislation.

German gay marriage legal, but faces legal challenge

The President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, signed the “marriage for all” bill into law on Thursday. The new law will come into effect after 1 October 2017.

The final step in the legalisation of gay and lesbian marriage comes three weeks after the country’s Bundestag approved the law at the end of June.

The law was controversial, and was rushed through both houses of parliament before the summer break.

Lawmakers who are opposed to “marriage for all” have threatened to have the legality of the new law checked by the Federal Court of Justice, which is Germany’s highest court.

The main change between civil partnerships and marriage equality in German law means same-sex couples will be able to jointly adopt children.

Chengdu conference cancelled without good reason

Organizers of the Speak Out conference in Chengdu, China had to scrap the event this week, the second time in as many months a public seminar aimed at expanding awareness of LGBT issues has run into snags.

The conference was due to be held on July 23, but the venue canceled the booking, citing conflicting events.

Many people were surprised by the cancellation. Many young Chinese people regard Chengdu as “gaydu”, or “the city of the gays”, due to its liberal views.