Australia’s armed forces celebrated 20 years since the end of its ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military on Saturday, with the Chief of the Australian Defense Force (ADF), General David Hurley, releasing a special statement to commemorate the anniversary.
On November 24, 1992, Prime Minister Paul Keating, announced that the ban on homosexuals in the ADF would be lifted, becoming one of the first in the world to do so.
General Hurley wrote that the decision to remove the ban marked an important step in the evolution of the ADF’s diversity policies and practices.
‘Diversity is an asset and I am proud of the changes which have occurred within the Australian Defense Force over the past 20 years,’ Hurley wrote, ‘It is important to give all ADF members the same access to the range of service benefits regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.’
‘My goal is for the Australian Defense Force to be recognized as a just, inclusive and fair minded organization that reflects the community it serves. We value our people and aim to support, enable and encourage everyone to achieve a rewarding and enduring military career.’
The ADF is working on a number of initiatives including an LGBTI Ambassador Network and diversity strategy to further enhance and support its LGBT personnel.
The Australian Air Force recently introduced a Diversity Handbook for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual members and the ADF is looking to roll that out across the rest of the organization.
A book published by the ADF and distributed to members earlier this year, ‘Voices: Stories of Defense Families,’ also included the story of gay military dads Paul White and Chris Andrews and their experience of having twins via surrogacy.
The moves to improve support for LGBT personnel come as the Australian Department of Defense conducts a review of allegations of sexual abuse and bullying in the ADF going back decades - including serious allegations of male-on-male rape and sexual humiliation alongside homophobic bullying.