On Sunday November 8, Royal Air Force veteran David Bonney and human rights campaigner/LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell laid a rainbow wreath at London’s Cenotaph to commemorate LGBTQ+ soldiers who lost their lives during the second world war. Although ceremonies across the country were affected by the new Covid-19 lockdown, Bonney said: “It is important to keep laying rainbow wreaths” in remembrance of those who are often erased from historical narratives about the war.
Tatchell said there were approximately 250,000 to half a million LGBTQ+ soldiers, sailors and aircrew who served in the second world war. He continued: “For decades, the Royal British Legion refused to acknowledge that any LGBTQ+ people gave their lives to defend democracy. Wreaths in their memory were removed from the Cenotaph and often vandalised. LGBTQ+ veterans were refused permission to march as a contingent in the Remembrance Day parade.”
Bonney was discharged from the forces and imprisoned for his sexual orientation, and said to this day he is still facing injustices as he has not been allowed his full pension. Him and Tatchell hope to make the stories of LGBTQ+ soldiers more visible, saying: “We remember the thousands of first-rate LGBTQ+ military personnel who were witch-hunted out of the armed forces, simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
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