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[14 AUG 01:  The Observer (UK)]

UK Military to Offer Equal Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

What is going on?
What has happened to my lovely NAVY??

I left the Service in 1983 before women went to sea [1990] and before homosexuals were allowed into the Service in 2000.  However, in fairness I cannot make any comments about a navy which had those two 'events' as part of its modus operandi.

Before we start, let's just recap on the brief history in the UK from when homosexuality was a crime nationally; its decriminalisation nationally; in its decriminalised state but still  unacceptable in the navy [from 1957], to it being allowed [from 2000].

Click here SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION.pdf

LONDON -- The same-sex partners of gay men and women serving in the British Armed Forces will soon be recognized as fully-fledged spouses, eligible for all the rights and benefits now afforded to married couples, the London-based newspaper The Observer reports.

After meetings with the Armed Forces Lesbian and Gay Association the Ministry of Defense offered a key concession in admitting that the gay partners of service personnel could be considered spouses.

The move, which would mean that gay partners could also receive pensions and other benefits, is highly controversial, and the newspaper notes the prospect of same-sex couples living openly on army bases in the UK and overseas will concern the many opponents of reform. One senior military officer called the move "political correctness gone mad" this past weekend.

But the MoD concession has been robustly welcomed by gay and lesbian service members. Lt Commander Craig Jones, one of the most senior officers to come out, said he greatly welcomed the idea of having his male partner quartered with him in Royal Navy supplied accommodations.

"There are a lot of people in our position, but few who are open about their sexuality," Jones said last week. "The services like to move at their own pace and have a tendency to be oversensitive. This shows they are slowly getting the message."

As in the United States, homosexuality in the British Armed Forces was forbidden until January of last year. The ban, which routinely prompted some 200 forced dismissals a year, was lifted after the European Court of Human Rights ruled it unlawful.

The court decision awarded £400,000 compensation to four military personnel, among them former navy Commander Duncan Lustig-Prean, who was awarded £144,000. The MoD has stated that it is trying to move ahead of European legislation rather than merely react to it.

A European directive that will come into force in 2003 will make it illegal for employers in member states to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Though there is still no provision for same-sex marriages in British law, officials at the MoD said its policy of awarding benefits and housing perks to married couples left it vulnerable to law suits. Recently the MoD was forced to agree to give the girlfriend of an SAS soldier killed in Sierra Leone last year a widow's pension.

Ten months after the ban was lifted, a Ministry of Defence found that the operational ability of the forces was unaffected. "The services reported that the revised policy on homosexuality had no discernible impact, either positive or negative, on recruitment," the report said, remarking on the "mature, pragmatic approach which allowed the policy to succeed."

 


[12 AUG 01: The Observer]

Armed forces are set to give spouse rights to gay partners



Jason Burke, chief reporter

The partners of gay service personnel are set to be recognised as fully-fledged spouses for the first time, following a key concession by the Ministry of Defence.

After meetings with the Armed Forces Lesbian and Gay Association the MoD appears to have admitted that the gay partners of service personnel could be considered spouses.

The move, which would mean that gay partners could also receive pensions and other benefits, is controversial. The prospect of homosexual couples living openly on army bases in the UK and overseas will concern the many opponents of reform. One senior officer branded it 'political correctness gone mad' this weekend. But the discussions in London have been welcomed by homosexuals
in the forces. Lt Commander Craig Jones, one of the most senior officers to come out, said he would be keen to live with his male partner in Royal Navy married accommodation.

'There are a lot of people in our position, but few who are open about their sexuality,' Jones said last week. 'The services like to move at their own pace and have a tendency to be oversensitive. This shows they are slowly getting the message.'

Jones said his partner had accompanied him to formal mess dinners while serving on HMS Fearless. 'We had a fantastic reaction,' he said.

Homosexuality was forbidden in the armed forces until January last year. The ban, which led to up to 200 sackings a year, was lifted after the European Court of Human Rights ruled it unlawful. The court awarded £400,000 compensation to four military personnel, among them former Navy Commander Duncan Lustig-Prean, who was awarded £144,000. The MoD has stated that it is trying to move ahead of European legislation rather than merely react to it.   A European directive that will come into force in 2003 will make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

An MoD spokesman said last week: 'The services are looking at the whole question of unmarried people living together, and homosexuality obviously has to be considered. At the moment everything is predicated on marriage.'

Though there is still no provision for same-sex marriages in English law, the MoD policy favouring traditional families could leave it open to scores of legal challenges from unmarried couples - homosexual or otherwise - following the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law last year.

Recently the MoD was forced to agree to give the girlfriend of an SAS soldier killed in Sierra Leone last year a 'widow's pension'.

Prior to its removal, the ban on gay service personnel was justified on the grounds of military effectiveness. Conservative Armed Services Minister Nicholas Soames said the services should not be 'bludgeoned out of the esprit de corps that has won every war since 1812'.

But 10 months after the ban was lifted, a Ministry of Defence review of the consequences found that the operational ability of the forces was unaffected.  'The services reported that the revised policy on homosexuality had no discernible impact, either positive or negative, on recruitment,' the report said, remarking on the 'mature, pragmatic approach which allowed the policy to succeed'.

Many senior officers fought the lifting of the ban. Last week one called moves to allow same-sex marriages 'madness'.

'It's a monstrosity. We are becoming an army of social workers not soldiers. There is all this focus on issues of gays and women and very little recognition of the fact that we have tens of thousands of soldiers doing a very professional job with increasingly limited funds,' he said.




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gaymilban.gif (1942 bytes)

Lustig-Prean and Beckett v The United Kingdom 26 Oct 99, ECtHR
Both applicants complained that the investigations into their homosexuality and their discharge from the Royal Navy on the sole ground that they are homosexual constituted violations of Article 8 of the Covention taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14. Court unanimously held 1. that there has been a violation of Article·8 of the Convention; 2. that no separate issue arises under Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 8; 3. that the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention is not ready for decision;. Partially dissenting opinion of Judge Loucaides disagreed that there had been a violation of Article 8 by reason of the applicants' discharge from the armed forces on account of their homosexuality. The aim of not allowing homosexuals in the armed forces was to ensure the operational effectiveness of the armed forces and to this extent the resulting interferences pursued the legitimate aims of "the interests of national security" and "the prevention of disorder". Appns nos. 31417/96 and 32377/96

[Note: fourth line 'Judge Loucaides' - what follows, is his dissenting opinion - which make PERFECT SENSE to me, and I rather suspect to the vast majority of the Royal Navy]

 

CASE OF LUSTIG-PREAN AND BECKETT v. THE UNITED KINGDOM

(Applications nos. 31417/96 and 32377/96)

PARTLY concurring, Partly DISSENTING OPINION OF JUDGE loucaides

I agree with the majority on all points except as regards the finding that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention by reason of the applicants' discharge from the armed forces on account of their homosexuality.

In this respect I have been convinced by the argument of the Government that particular problems might be posed by the communal accommodation arrangements in the armed forces. The applicants would have to share single-sex accommodation and associated facilities (showers, toilets etc.) with their heterosexual colleagues. To my mind, the problems in question are in substance analogous to those which would result from the communal accommodation of male members of the armed forces with female members. What makes it necessary for males not to share accommodation and other associated facilities with females is the difference in their sexual orientation. It is precisely this difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals which makes the position of the Government convincing.

I find the answer given by the majority regarding this aspect of the case unsatisfactory. The Court noted (at paragraph 96 of the judgment) that the HPAT considered that "separate accommodation for homosexuals would not be warranted or wise" and the Court found that, in any case, "it had not been shown that the conduct codes and disciplinary rules... could not adequately deal with any behavioural issues arising on the part either of homosexuals or of heterosexuals". The fact that separate accommodation is not "warranted or wise" does not justify communal accommodation if such accommodation is really problematic. On the other hand, "conduct codes and disciplinary rules" cannot change the sexual orientation of people and the relevant problems which - for the purposes of the issue under consideration - in the analogous case of women makes it incumbent to accommodate them separately from male soldiers. It is the compulsory living together of groups of people of different sexual orientation which creates the problem. I should add here that if homosexuals had a right to be members of the armed forces their sexual orientation could become known either through them disclosing it or manifesting it in some way.

The aim of not allowing homosexuals in the armed forces was to ensure the operational effectiveness of the armed forces and to this extent the resulting interferences pursued the legitimate aims of "the interests of national security" and the prevention of disorder". This was accepted by the Court. My disagreement with the majority relates to the question of whether the interference in the present case can be considered "necessary in a democratic society" for the aim in question. The majority underlined the principle that when the relevant restrictions to a Convention right concern a most intimate part of an individual's private life there must exist particularly serious reasons before the interferences can satisfy the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention. However, I agree with the Government that the narrow margin of appreciation which is applied to cases involving intimate private-life matters is widened in cases like the present, in which the legitimate aim of the relevant restriction relates to the operational effectiveness of the armed forces and, therefore, to the interests of national security. This, I think, is the logical connotation of the principle that in assessing the pressing social need in cases of interferences with the right to respect for an individual's private life from the standpoint of the protection of national security, the State has a wide margin of appreciation (see the Leander v. Sweden judgment of 26 March 1987, Series A no. 116, p.25, § 59).

Regard must also be had to the principle that limitations incapable of being imposed on civilians may be placed on certain of the rights and freedoms of members of the armed forces (see the Kalaç v. Turkey judgment of 1 July 1997, Reports of judgments and Decisions' 1997-IV, p.1209, § 28).

I believe that the Court should not interfere simply because there is a disagreement with the necessity of the measures taken by a State. Otherwise the concept of the margin of appreciation would be meaningless. The Court may substitute its own view for that of the national authorities only when the measure is patently disproportionate to the aim pursued. I should add that the wider the margin of appreciation allowed to the State, the narrower should be the scope for interference by the Court.

I do not think that the facts of the present case justify our Court's interference. As I have already stated above, the sexual orientation of homosexuals does create the problems highlighted by the Government as a result of the communal accommodation with heterosexuals. There is nothing patently disproportionate in the approach of the Government. On the contrary it was in the circumstances reasonably open to them to adopt the policy of not allowing homosexuals in the armed forces. This condition was made clear to the applicants before their recruitment. It was not imposed afterwards (cf the Young, James and Webster V. the United Kingdom judgment of 13 August 1981, Series A no. 44, p. 25, § 62). In this respect it may be useful to add that the Convention does not guarantee the right to serve in the armed forces (see Marangos V. Cyprus,

In the circumstances, I find that the applicants' discharge on account of their homosexuality in pursuance of the Ministry of Defence policy was justified under Article 8 § 2 of the Convention, as being necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security and the prevention of disorder.

[For the full text of the judgment, visit the European Court's web site, linked to from section 4 of the Aspals Index page]. For a good read about Courts Martial cases, visit this URL http://www.aspals.com/

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RAF Targets Gay Pride Festival

Friday, August 27, 2004

The RAF will come out this weekend as the first of the armed forces to recruit at a major gay festival.

Eight officers will staff a float at Manchester's Gay Pride extravaganza over the Bank Holiday weekend. The RAF says it is part of a recruitment drive to show how the armed forces welcome people from different backgrounds.

Until January 2003 it was legal for the armed forces to reject gay and lesbian officers.

But the European court of human rights in Strasbourg ruled that the ban breached gay peoples' right to respect for private life.

A spokeswoman for the RAF said: "Along with the other armed forces, the RAF tries to reflect the community from which it draws it members.

"We have recruitment policies that recognise that people from different backgrounds can make positive contributions.

"An individual's sexual orientation is none of the RAF's business."

This is the first time in the armed forces' history that gay recruits have been specifically targeted. Last month Brian Paddick, deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan police, marched alongside 100 uniformed gay police officers at London's Gay Pride.

The Manchester festival attracts thousands of party-goers from different walks of life.

Mary Murphy, Manchester city council's spokeswoman for lesbian issues said: "It is excellent to see so many different community groups participating in the celebration."

More than 60 organisations will be represented in the procession.

The singer Beverley Knight and the Big Brother winner Nadia will appear to show their support.

 

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and if that little lot doesn't disturb you, I am sure that this next announcement by OUR POLITICALLY CORRECT MOD will go completely unnoticed.

Remember, in bits and pieces VOL VI, I told you what religions were accepted by the MOD and what were discouraged. Forget it - it is history!

Navy Gives Blessing to Sailor Satanist

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Royal Navy technician who is a Satanist has been given permission to practise his beliefs at sea, the Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday.

Chris Cranmer, 24, from Edinburgh, has been a practising Satanist for nine years. He joined the navy four years ago and was promoted to leading hand - the equivalent of an army corporal - last year.

The decision by his superiors means that if he is killed in action aboard the frigate, HMS Cumberland, he will be allowed to have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan.

The church was founded in the 1960s and its members reject Christian views of God and the devil, instead following Satanic rules stating: "Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence; Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek; and Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification."

An MoD spokesman said it was an equal opportunities employer and did not discriminate against specific religious beliefs.

"He went to his commanding officer with a request to practise his beliefs on board his ship and it was granted," a spokesman said. "We believe he is the first avowed Satanist to serve in the military, but there is no official register of beliefs."

Satanism has been branded a cult by some religious groups, while Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister, said: "Satanism is wrong. Obviously, the private beliefs of individuals anywhere - including the armed forces - are their own affair, but I hope it doesn't spread."

There should be "no question whatsoever" of allowing Satanist rituals aboard navy ships. "God himself gives free will, but I would like to think if somebody applied to the navy and said they were a Satanist today it would raise its eyebrows somewhat."

Mr Cranmer is reportedly lobbying the Ministry of Defence to make Satanism a registered religion in the armed forces, although the MoD spokesman said it was not aware of any approach about the issue.

In an interview in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, Mr Cranmer said he realised he was a Satanist nine years ago when he stumbled across the Satanic Bible, written by Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of the church, who died in 1997. "I then read more and more and came to realise I'd always been a Satanist - I just simply never knew."

A navy spokesman said: "We are an equal opportunities employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious values." He added: "Our policy is that, wherever practical, reasonable requests for time and facilities that do not impact on operational effectiveness or the welfare of other personnel, are met."

Doug Harris, director of the Reachout Trust, an evangelical Christian ministry that "builds a bridge of reason" to those involved in cults and the occult, said he agreed in principle that there must be opportunity for freedom of belief. But he added: "We must look to see the quality of life we are advocating and the potential end results of such beliefs."

He said of the Satanic statements: "Following such tenets and working them out practically in your life seems to produce a selfish person - not a member of a team. At they same time, they appear to have little regard for others and certainly would not want to see people forgiven for things they have done wrong."