The Royal British Legion has launched its first LGBTI branch to recognize LGBTI people in the Armed Forces.
The LGBTQ+ and Allies Branch launched on Friday (11 January). Its comes 19 years after the UK lifted the ban on gay and bisexual people serving in the Armed Forces.
Formed in 1921, the RBL helps members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families. It also campaigns to improve their lives, organize the Poppy Appeal and remember the fallen.
‘With no other veteran organisation specifically for the LGBTQ+ community we hope the new branch will help tackle isolation and build connections in our communities, and act as a safe space for people from across the LGBTQ+ community to share experiences and support the work of the Legion,’ the RBL said in a statement.
Life without judgement
Married couple, Emma Miller-McCaffrey and Ann Miller-McCaffrey, are founding members of the branch. Emma is currently serving in the Navy.
They hope the new branch helps to undo some of the wrongs against LGBTI people in the military.
‘There are many people who historically have not been treated appropriately by the military, and those who support them and their families, due to the laws of the land,’ Emma said.
‘But that has now changed and, just as the military now shows off its inclusivity as a service, the RBL are now also in a position to remind people that they are there to support all who served… regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation.’
Emma hoped the new branch will link her to a support network who have shared experiences of military life.
‘I am proud to be the granddaughter of someone who served during WW2, I am proud to be married to my wife as a serving member of the Royal Navy and I am proud of who I am as a gay woman and becoming a member of the RBL’s newest LGBT branch allows me to be all of those things without judgement,’ she said.
Branch membership officer, Sue Coleman, invited people to join the new group.
‘Be part of a great group of people supporting the diversity in our armed forces. Give something back and help those who are serving, veterans and their families know they are not alone,’ she said.