Recognising 30 years since the lifting of the ban on LGBT+ people in the Diplomatic Service
6 July 2021
FCDO Services is joining with the rest of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on LGBT+ people in the Diplomatic Service.
From 5 to 9 July, the Rainbow Flag will be flying at our Head Office in Hanslope Park, as well as across the FCDO’s UK Estate.
Sir Philip Barton, the FCDO’s Permanent Under-Secretary, has publicly apologised on behalf of the FCDO for the ban on LGBT+ people in the Diplomatic Service.
Why was there a ban?
In July 1991, the UK government lifted the ban on LGBT+ people serving openly in the Diplomatic Service. The ban was in place because there was a perception that LGBT+ people were more susceptible than their non-LGBT+ counterparts to blackmail, and therefore that they posed a security risk.
This ban meant that LGBT+ individuals were not able to join the Diplomatic Service or serve their country overseas. It also meant they could lose their jobs if they were open and honest about who they were or who they loved.
What have the FCDO and FCDO Services done since 1991?
While the decision to lift the ban was a positive step, many staff continued to feel its affects for many years to come. Some were treated badly for being who they were, and honestly disclosing their sexuality. Others felt unable to come out and be honest about their true self, even after the ban was lifted.
Over the past 30 years, the FCDO, including FCDO Services, has transformed itself into a proud and inclusive employer of all LGBT+ people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We want to celebrate the LGBT+ staff and allies who have shown dedication, resilience and bravery in campaigning for equality and inclusion for all. We’re immensely proud of our colleagues for continuing to make the FCDO and FCDO Services a better place to work.