Royal Navy and Royal Marines show their LGBT+ Pride in Manchester

Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines showed their support for the LGBT+ community by marching for the first time at Manchester Pride this weekend.

The Naval Service has taken part in LGBT+ Pride events up and down the country for more than 10 years, but this year is the first time a contingent of sailors and marines formally represented the Navy in Manchester.

Sailors and marines marched proudly through the city to send a message that the Naval Service welcomes all talent to its ranks regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Mike Hill, 35, from Manchester, said: “A significant number of sailors and marines come from the north of England and it’s important for us to show the whole of the country that we support the LGBT+ community.

“Your sexual orientation or gender identity really has no bearing on your ability to serve in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines – it’s your individual skills as a person that matter.

“It was a great feeling to be able to march with my colleagues through my home town. We had a great reception and we’re grateful to everyone who cheered us along.”

I’m really lucky to be able to serve in the armed forces knowing I am completely accepted for who I am

Able Seaman Robbie Mason

Able Seaman Robbie Mason, 21, from Manchester, also took part in the parade. He said: “I was really excited to take part in Manchester Pride alongside my friends in the Navy.

“I’m really lucky to be able to serve in the armed forces knowing I am completely accepted for who I am. I enjoyed being part of the Royal Navy’s demonstration of support to the LGBT+ community.

“After attending my first Pride I realised how important it is that we take part in events like this, because we do an amazing job at providing an inclusive place to work regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This weekend’s celebration marks almost 20 years since the ban on LGBT+ people serving in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines was lifted.

The Naval Service’s involvement in the parade was co-ordinated by Compass, the Royal Navy’s sexual orientation and gender identity network.

It has been 52 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, and six years since the UK voted to legalise same-sex marriage, giving same-sex couples the same legal rights as straight ones.

But more than one in three LGBT+ people in the UK report having suffered abuse because of their sexuality or gender. Homosexuality remains illegal in 72 countries and is punishable by death in eight nations.