Pride in London is 50! And celebrating this historic milestone, soldiers from across the British Army are gathering to join their comrades from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and Defence Civilians to march tomorrow through London. They will be following the original route of the first ever Pride in London parade half a century ago.
Pride in London includes people of every race and faith, whether disabled or able-bodied, and all sexualities and genders including lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, queer, questioning, intersex, trans*, genderqueer, gender variant or non-binary as well as straight and cis allies.
Setting the pace and boosting morale at the front of the Defence contingent will be the world-renowned Musicians of the Band of the Grenadier Guards, performing a wide range of military and popular music, in their immaculate red tunics, bearskin caps and mirror polished parade boots.
The British Army in 2022 is stronger and more effective because people perform better when they are free to be themselves. We are proud of the work we do to attract and retain the most talented of individuals, whatever their racial or cultural origins, their gender or sexual orientation.
“It is a statement of progress for the Army to be marching at Pride, and an opportunity to thank those who went before us to fight for progress, and to remind myself and others that our freedoms are hard fought for and so easily lost.” Brigadier Clare Phillips, leading the Army contingent in Pride in London 2022
Organising the day will be the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s Major Frazer Stark from Peebles. He said: “I think it’s great that personnel from across Defence can openly march with Pride in London, in their uniforms. This is thanks to all those who fought for our rights 50 years ago and since.”
Frazer joined the Regular Army in 2010 after serving as a Reservist in 6 SCOTS whilst at University.
He said: “The exciting roles, rewarding work, travel and, most importantly, the soldiers, have kept me in. Even in my relatively short career, the Army and Defence have made significant progress in making this an inclusive organisation.”
The highlight of his career to date was his second operational tour of Iraq in 2018, when he was working with Coalition and Iraqi forces in the final stages of clearing ISIS from Iraq and Syria. Making a difference is such a motivational factor and the Army has offered that opportunity for him in spades.
Why diversity matters to the Army
The Army values its tremendous diversity, because recent operational experience has shown that a diverse force is a more operationally effective force. This is because it offers comprehensive and manifold talents and skills, which together are vital for complex problem solving and taking appropriate action. The Army needs more diverse teams, across the entire spectrum of conflict to guarantee its future success in an increasingly challenging world.
During the parade on Saturday Frazer will be thinking about all those who fought, and in some cases died, for our freedoms, whether LGBTQ+ or not, their sacrifice is the same. He added: “The parade ends for the military at the Cenotaph, which really brings everything home”.
Pride in London is the UK’s biggest, most diverse pride, and provides a platform to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and campaign for the freedoms that will allow everyone to live their lives on a genuinely equal footing.
This year’s parade in particular was designed to give LGBTQ+ people a platform to be visible and speak loudly about what has been achieved, how far we have come as a nation, and what is still needed to enable everyone’s individuality to be respected and recognised.
“I want to show others that they can be their whole authentic selves in the Army. Brigadier Clare Phillips, Deputy Military Secretary, Army Personnel Centre
Brigadier Clare Phillips is second in command at the Army’s career management centre in Glasgow. She has led Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) soldiers on operations, and was the first woman to become a Corps Colonel.
She explained what it meant to her to be marching on this 50th anniversary parade: “I want to show others that they can be their whole authentic selves in the Army.
“It is a statement of progress for the Army to be marching at Pride, and an opportunity to thank those who went before us to fight for progress, and to remind myself and others that our freedoms are hard fought for and so easily lost.”
Members of the Armed Forces first marched in uniform in Pride in London in 2008 and have proudly taken part in Pride marches every year since, with the exception of the Covid-19 pandemic when the marches had to be cancelled.
Support for all
Since the lifting of the ban on LGBT personnel serving in the military in the January 2000, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has welcomed and supported all staff, irrespective of sexual orientation, actively celebrating and supporting the diversity of all our personnel.
Service personnel who have indicated a wish to change their gender are given the necessary support during and after transition. Support for all is available through LGBTQ+ champions, both military and civilian, senior LGBTQ+ role models and active LGBTQ+ networks throughout the whole organisation.
We will continue to ensure that all our people have the best experience possible, where their health and wellbeing is prioritised, and they can serve with pride and feel valued and supported in a modern Armed Forces Chief of Defence Peopl, Lieutenant General James Swift
We are constantly striving to improve accessibility and fairness for all. Most recently, The MOD announced that from 21 June 2022, serving personnel who are taking suppressive treatment for HIV, and whose blood tests show no detectable virus, will now be recognised as fully fit for all service.
The policy change also applies to anyone wishing to join the military, meaning living with HIV is no longer a barrier for those wishing to serve.
The changes demonstrate Defence’s recognition of advances in the management, treatment and prevention of HIV and its commitment to ensuring the Armed Forces become a more modern and inclusive employer.
Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General James Swift said: "This welcome change in policy is a recognition of the superb medical advancements that have been made and the decisive work by those that helped to bring about these changes.
“We will continue to ensure that all our people have the best experience possible, where their health and wellbeing is prioritised, and they can serve with pride and feel valued and supported in a modern Armed Forces."
Our personnel policies and guidance are designed to ensure that service personnel no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation, are valued, well managed and can fulfil their potential.
Did you know?
Since the legalisation of gay civil partnerships in Britain, the British military has recognised civil partnerships and granted married gay couples exactly the same rights to allowances and housing as straight couples. Spouses in civil partnerships are entitled to spousal benefits and Civil partners are also allowed accommodation in military housing, security clearance and allowances.
All personnel in the British Army, wherever in the world they are serving, receive annual Diversity & Inclusion, and Respect for Others training. As part of this they learn about what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. They are also made aware of how to report any unacceptable behaviour, including to the Speak Out Confidential Helpline and other means available to resolve interpersonal conflicts, including the Army Mediation Service.
If you’re in Piccadilly, Haymarket or Trafalgar Square from 12 noon on Saturday 2 July 2022, please show your support for our heroes as they march with Pride in London.