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Pride 2017

London Pride Week takes place from 3 – 8 July, and to underline the Army’s support for our LGBT Personnel, all Army units are flying the Rainbow flag.  In addition, about 200 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force will be marching at London Pride on Saturday 8 July where Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders, Commander Field Army will take the salute past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.  

Being able to be authentic in the workplace whether that is openly expressing your sexuality, gender identity, or practicing your religion, will enable you to give your best; the Army will do everything to ensure that anyone who meets the standard to join has the opportunity to succeed.  An Army LGBT Forum exists to provide support to the LGBT community in particular those who may need encouragement and support to come out or in some cases to go through gender reassignment.  Creating a more inclusive organisation which welcomes talent from the wider UK population is key to the Army’s future success as we operate in an increasingly complex global security environment.  

On this page, you will be able to read about the personal stories and experiences of some of our LGBT Personnel.  They are all great role models for anyone considering a future in the Army or those already serving.



Colonel Clare Phillips

I am 44 and have served in the Army for 22 years.  At the moment I am fulfilling the role of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps Colonel which provides me with a lot of variety and travel as I am responsible for ensuring that the people within the Corps have the correct capabilities and are properly supported.  I was attracted to the Army because I am sporty and love challenge, I have been an Army rugby player, climbed mountains and sky dived.  I have done some interesting jobs including operational tours of duty in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and I ran all the training for those deployed to the London Olympics 2012.  I’m immensely proud of the Army,  I feel able to be myself and be accepted for who I am, the only thing that matters to my colleagues is that I can do my job well.  My confidence in being openly gay has grown and I can honestly say that I have encountered only positive reactions.  This has helped me to relax and share my life with others.  Your sexuality doesn’t define who you are, who you are is based on what excites and motivates you and makes you happy.  The Army is a great employer which values me for my skills and welcomes my diversity without any undue attention or pressure.

Capt Gemma Rowland

I’m 28 and have served for seven years in the Army. I currently work  as a Recruiting Officer. I’m a keen rugby player and have travelled to Australia, USA, Belgium, Germany, France and Holland with the Army Women’s Rugby Team. The Army has developed my self-discipline, leadership and teamwork all of which have enabled me to perform well both on and off the pitch.

I relish the challenges I’ve experienced through my Army service whether that be on a sailing expedition across the Mediterranean or on an operational tour of duty in Afghanistan. I have always been open about being gay and my partner has been made very welcome by colleagues wherever we have gone. I think that I receive more respect for being open about who I am.

Capt Hannah Winterbourne

I’m 30 and am currently in post as an Adjutant in 6 Battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers which is a very busy job, providing detailed administrative support for the Commanding Officer and overseeing the management of personnel in the unit. As an openly transgender woman in the British Army and an active member of the Army’s LGBT Forum, I have been very fortunate to act as a role model to other transgender individuals. Drawing on my personal experience of transition, I have mentored soldiers at all ranks, helping them understand that their identity is nothing to be ashamed of, and instead is something that can be celebrated.

In the Army we work in diverse teams all the time and the biggest part of that is understanding that different people bring different things to the party. I personally feel that my transition has made me more empathetic to other people’s issues and less judgemental in general, skills that I use on a daily basis when commanding soldiers. Whether you are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, remember that you have knowledge, skills and experiences that are individual to you and of great value, and as part of the team you are contributing to ensure that our Army is as professional and effective as it can be.

Sgt Alastair Smith-Weston

I am 37 and serve with the Second Battalion the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. I’ve been in the army for 19 years, it was always a childhood dream of mine to serve in the military. I’m currently an Assistant Intelligence Officer and during my service I’ve worked on operations in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, training in Botswana, Kenya and the Falkland Islands and I was part of the Intelligence team for the London Olympics in 2012.

I’m immensely proud of being in the Army and its provided me with so many experiences I would never have had if I hadn’t joined. Originally I wasn’t open about being gay as I was fearful of the reaction but after serving 10 years I came out and the reception was amazing. It frees up a lot of pressure not having to hide who I am. My husband is seen in the same was as anyone else’s partner or spouse. My advice is to never let who you are be a barrier to being where you want to be.

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