The first official opportunity for LGBT+ veterans to attend the National Service of Remembrance will be a “profoundly moving experience”, according to one former member of the Royal Navy
Fighting With Pride, a charity which supports the health and wellbeing of LGBT+ veterans, has been given 24 places at the event at the Cenotaph on Sunday.
Among them will be Chris Ferguson, who was a medic and radiographer in the Royal Navy medical branch before being dismissed in 1982 for being gay.
He said: “To march to remember the fallen is an honour I thought I would never be able to perform.
“For all service personnel, present and former, it is remembering our own family.
“The forces are one family, no matter in which generation we served.
“To be able finally to remember our family properly, as the equal of other veterans, is a profoundly moving experience for me.”
The invitation to the event comes as the Ministry of Defence has promised to return medals to all veterans who had them stripped because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in time for Sunday.
The so-called “gay ban” in the UK armed forces was lifted in 2000.
Among those who led the campaign to have it overturned was Lieutenant Commander Duncan Lustig-Prean, who was discharged from the Royal Navy in 1995 and was a prominent test case at the European Court of Human Rights.
He will be marching on Sunday, and he said: “It is 25 years since LGBTQ+ service personnel last marched, under condition of anonymity, together at the Cenotaph.
“It is our duty to honour all those who gave their lives for freedom and… we do that with pride.”