Spotlight On: Compass

Spotlight On: Compass

The Royal Navy Compass Network

Compass, the Royal Navy’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Network, was created as the predecessor to the Royal Navy LGBT Forum, offering a safe space and support to any personnel who may identify as LGBTQ+. Compass also includes the Royal Marines, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and the Maritime Reserves.

Operating under the tagline, #Educate, #Engage, #Enthuse & #Empower, Compass has worked tirelessly to build upon the efforts of the LGBT Forum and to improve both naval attitude towards sexuality and gender identity, and public opinion that the Royal Navy is a prejudiced institution.

Pride

Under the guidance of newly elected Co-Chair, Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Mike Hill (from January 2018), Compass has been instrumental in engaging with other defence partners and the Government to break down barriers for, and actively recruit LGBTQ+ people for the Royal Navy.

Compass supported the Royal Navy’s first appearance at a Pride event in 2006, marching in the famous London Pride, before going on to support the Royal Marines’ attendance at Manchester Pride in 2019 for the very first time, where they marched alongside the Royal Navy.

Hill stated, “It’s important for us to show the whole country that we support the LGBT+ community.”

Compass posters are shared widely across naval sites, sharing relevant contact information.
Courtesy of the Royal Navy.

Thanks to the efforts of organisations such as Compass, the Royal Navy states on its website:

“We empower all our people, by respecting and valuing what makes them different. Encouraging and promoting differences in our backgrounds and experience makes us a healthier and stronger fighting force.”

These words are a far cry from the days when high-ranking personnel would say “these people have standards that are different to those we have in the armed forces. They would damage operation effectiveness, they would cause discord at the frontline, they would make us less competent as a nation at war fighting.”

Breaking down barriers

Today, the Royal Navy works hard to break down barriers, rather than enforcing them based upon one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Further successes that can be attributed to the efforts of Compass and like-minded individuals, such as Mike Hill, include the Royal Navy being awarded the Pink News Public Sector Award in 2018 and being highly commended in the 2019 Civil Service Di-versity Awards.

Beyond its immediate work with the Royal Navy, Compass also actively promotes the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ personnel and the wider community alike, tackling the difficult issues that people face and promoting the help that is available.

Early in 2022, Compass shared a Twitter thread highlighting facts about LGBTQ+ people with disabilities for International Day of People with Disability in support of the new naval network, Royal Navy Enabled, and also shed light on insufficient access to decent general health care for trans people through their GPs.

Compass can be found on both Facebook and Twitter, or directly through the Royal Navy’s website.

Find out more about Compass on Facebook.

Find out more about Compass on Twitter.

Resources:
www.fightingwithpride.org.uk/who-we-are/trustees/mike-hill/
www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/12/craig-jones-the-naval-officer-who-risked-his-career-by-coming-out-then-fought-ceaselessly-for-gay-rights
www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-people/diversity-and-inclusion

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