According to an article in today's Times reporting an interview with Geof Hoon, the Defence Secretary, the armed services are to lift the ban on homosexuals serving next month.
A new code of conduct will be published in January concerning behaviour standards irrespective of sexual orientation. This will state that behaviour alone will determine whether the sexuality of a man or woman will consitute grounds for dismissal. A known homosexual who conforms to standards of military discipline will be treated no differently from a heterosexual colleague.
This follows the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on 27th September 1999 in the cases of Jeanette Smith, Graeme Grady, Duncan Lustig-Prean and John Beckett (see bulletin of that date) which held that the U.K. was in breach of article 8 of the ECHR (right to respect for family and private life).
Although this Code is welcome, the armed services continue to disciminate on grounds of gender (eg Sirdar v UK in which, last month, the European Court of Human Rights held that the refusal of the Royal Marines to employe a female chef was not incompatible with the Convention). No doubt this will be discussed at a government conference, being held tomorrow in Birmingham, on racial and sexual equality in the armed forces. However, Geoff Hoon is reported in The Times as indicating that "there might still be good reasons for doubting the wisdom of giving women front line combat roles.". He is quoted as saying "I'll look at it, but there is no presumption in favour of it."
Plus ca change...
PS - Just a reminder - the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 come into force on Wednesday - see bulletins dated 5th November and 25th October 1999
PPS - Please note that the advertisements which have appeared recently at the footer of some of these messages are imposed by the ListBot server (which I use for distributing these bulletins) and do not form part of these bulletins. I am arranging to have them removed, and they should not be appearing after Christmas.