British Army advised US on repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

As Republican senators rejected attempts to reverse the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prohibits openly gay personnel in the US armed forces, a decade after similar rules were abolished in the UK the head of the British Army's diversity unit confirmed it had been consulted by its military counterparts across the Atlantic.

Colonel Mark Abraham told Personnel Management Magazine that fears surrounding the removal of the exclusion policy had been unfounded, and the overnight lifting of the ban in January 2000 had resulted in "no notable change at all".

"We got to the point where the policy was incompatible with military service and there was a lack of logic and evidence to support it," explained Abraham, head of employment, equality and diversity for the British Army.

"We knew a lot of gay and lesbian people were serving quite successfully, and it was clear that sexual orientation wasn't an indication of how good a soldier or officer you could be."

He continued: "The reality was that those serving in the army were the same people the day after we lifted the ban, so there was no notable change at all. Everybody carried on with their duties and had the same working relationships as they previously had while the ban was in place."

Similarly, the development of the UK Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct ten years ago had drawn on the example of the Australian Defence Force:

  • Civil Service Policy Hub Case Study: Introduction of a Code of Social Conduct in the Armed Forces
  • UK Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct: Policy Statement
  • British Army

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