Letter: Military gays less threat to morale than military police

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am surprised by all the brouhaha about "letting gays into the military" (report 5 March).

Between l979 and 1994 I served for over six years in the Royal Air Force and some eight years in the Territorial Army. To my certain knowledge there were homosexuals in every major unit or formation in which I served, both support and front line, yet at no time was I aware of any consequent lowering of morale. There were no queues of heterosexual servicemen or women outside the Commanding Officer's door requesting postings to "homosexual- free" units.

All the current attention serves to do is to ferment existing right-wing and homophobic prejudices within the Services, the worst offenders being the Service police, who seem to believe that there is a Communist under every bed and a homosexual in every shower cubicle. I once endured an eight-hour "interview" with an RAF Police officer (one of the most bigoted men I have ever met) because one or more of my fellow officers thought my civilian clothes or mannerisms might have been a little outre. No further action was taken, presumably because I am not homosexual, but it left a sour taste in the mouth for the remaining years of my service.

My sympathies lie with the homosexual servicemen and women forced to keep their sexual orientation a secret in order to keep their jobs and I hope that Michael Portillo will reconsider his refusal to lift the ban.

Simon Haste

London E17

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