The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has issued an apology for implementing a ban on LGBTQ+ staff which was repealed in 1991.
On Monday (July 5), the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office published an apology for its “misguided” ban of LGBTQ+ staff.
Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCDO and Head of the Diplomatic Service, shared a message to staff: “The ban was in place because there was a perception that LGBTQ+ people were more susceptible than their straight counterparts to blackmail and, therefore, that they posed a security risk.
“Because of this misguided view, people’s careers were ended, cut short, or stopped before they could even begin.
“And the diplomatic service undoubtedly deprived itself of some of the UK’s brightest and best talent.
“I want to apologise publicly for the ban and the impact it had on our LGBTQ+ staff and their loved ones, both here in the UK and abroad.”
In his statement, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCDO made sure to highlight the changes undertaken by the FCDO to become a “diverse and inclusive employer” in the 30 years since the end of the ban, alongside efforts made to champion LGBTQ+ rights internationally.
“In the 30 years since the ban was lifted, the FCDO has made great progress in becoming a proud and inclusive employer of LGBT people, and a champion for LGBTQ+ rights around the world,” Barton said.
“I pay tribute to all our LGBTQ+ staff – past and present – who helped secure change within the Diplomatic Service, while representing their country with professionalism and dedication.
I thank them for the contributions they have made, and continue to make.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also thanked UK’s LGBTQ+ diplomats for representing “our country and promote our values around the world.”
The secretary added: “As co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, we are working with 41 partner countries to tackle discriminatory laws and prejudice globally.
The UK champions LGBT rights because we believe freedom and tolerance are a source of strength in communities at home and abroad.”
The issued apology comes as the UK prepares to co-host a conference of the intergovernmental Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) on 6-7 July.
The ERC is a group of 42 countries that are committed to the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI people.
The conference will launch a new five-year strategy aimed at increasing international cooperation and action on LGBTI rights.
You can watch Philip Barton’s apology on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office here or below:
30 years ago, the FCDO lifted the ban on LGBT+ people serving openly in the diplomatic service.
— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) July 5, 2021