Gay Royal Navy veteran tells MPs she was 'blackmailed' due to her sexuality
A GAY veteran has told MPs how she was ‘blackmailed’ during her time with the Royal Navy.
The female sailor had joined the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in 1982, aged 18.
At the time, gay people were banned in the military, with those who were found out being dishonourably discharged and sometimes stripped of their medals.
The rule changed in 2000, when the ban on homosexuality in the military was finally lifted.
But the woman, who is not being named, said she had had to conceal who she was from her colleagues and was once blackmailed during her time in navy for her sexuality.
Writing as part of the Commons defence select committee’s study on women in the armed forces, the veteran said: ‘I didn’t understand I was gay when I joined, social pressure and societal expectation was confusing, oppressive and toxic.
‘I spent my career using 80 per cent of my energy masking my every move or look or word in case I was caught out for being gay.
‘I was subject to blackmail which I did not collude with but getting rid of him was a horrible experience, bullying and harassment both psychological, threatening, physical and sexual.
‘I could not ever relax or be myself like my heterosexual colleagues did.’
The Royal Navy has made huge strides to improve the situation for sailors from LGBTQ backgrounds.
In 2019 LGBT equality charity Stonewall placed the naval service in 15th on the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, which lists the nation’s top 100 organisations.
The navy was recently named in the top 100 of the best employers in Britain for trans and non-binary staff by Stonewall.