COUNCILLORS in Caerphilly have called for the local authority to provide “inclusive and welcoming” support to former and serving LGBT+ members of the Armed Forces and their families.
A notice of motion, calling on the council to adopt the Pride in Veterans Standard (PiVS), has won cross-party backing from 25 elected representatives.
PiVS “supports the health and wellbeing” of LGBT+ veterans, current members of the Armed Forces, and their loved ones – with a particular focus on supporting anyone affected by the previous ban on openly LGBT+ people serving in the military.
The proposed motion, by councillors Carol Andrews and Teresa Heron, notes Caerphilly County Borough Council “already demonstrates its support for the Armed Forces community and to the LGBT+ community”.
But Cllr Heron, the council’s armed forces ‘champion’, told the Corporate and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee there were “many, many reasons” to go further.
Asked by committee member Jan Jones why there was a need for a “separate banner” when “everybody should be inclusive together”, Cllr Heron said: “It’s about recognising the wrongdoings of the past [and] correcting it.”
“We know we have to have equality, but [LGBT+ veterans] still need to be included, and there are still little loopholes where there is not inclusiveness,” Cllr Heron told the committee. “We need to tighten this and make it clear for everybody to understand that these veterans, serving personnel and their families are 100% supported.”
She and Cllr Andrews – the council’s LGBTQ+ ‘champion’ – said in their proposed motion that signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant, working with the local government partnership Proud Councils, and hosting Pride Caerffili – dubbed a “massive success” – were all evidence of the council’s support for LGBT+ people and Armed Forces veterans.
“Adopting the [PiVS] further demonstrates the council’s commitment to supporting veterans in the county borough regardless of their protected characteristics,” they added.
Committee member and Plaid Cymru group leader Lindsay Whittle said he and his party colleagues “fully support” the proposed motion.
He referenced the life of “hero” Alan Turing, who led World War II efforts to crack the Nazis’ Enigma codes, and who was later prosecuted for having a relationship with another man.
Cllr Whittle said Turing “probably helped save many thousands of lives during the war”, only later to be “hounded to death” for his homosexuality.
Committee member Denver Preece said he was “disgusted” to think how long LGBT+ people were banned from the Armed Forces, adding that he hoped such policies would never return.
“There should never be separate laws for different parts of our communities,” he added.
The notice of motion has won support from Labour, Plaid Cymru and independents, and will be laid before the full council at a future meeting.