MEMBERS of the Australian Defence Force’s LGBTI information service will march in this year’s Mardi Gras parade to celebrate queer inclusion in the Australian military.

The ban on gay and lesbian service in the Australian military was officially overturned in 1992, however a new research project has found that the history of LGBTI people enlisting and serving dates back to the Second World War and earlier.

Through the project researchers are investigating the experiences of the LGBTI men and women that served from 1945 to the present.

The research has been undertaken by Associate Professor Noah Riseman from the Australian Catholic University, Associate Professor Shirleene Robinson from Macquarie University, and Dr Graham Willett from the University of Melbourne.

All three researchers assert it is important that Australians remember the LGBTI men and women that bravely served their country before 1992, although many had to conceal their sexuality at a significant cost.

Some men and women were discharged as a result of their sexuality.

Robinson said as she speaks to more and more people, she’s struck by their bravery.

“We’re hearing stories from men and women who made lives for themselves in the military but also accounts of individuals who had an enormous amount to give the military but were discharged because of their sexuality or gender identity,” she said.

Riseman said there’s a long history of LGBTI people serving their country by joining the Australian Defence Force.

“Our project is revealing just how many of these individuals wanted to join up and serve, although doing so could mean they could be the victims of witch-hunts or official persecution because of their sexuality,” he said.

The research is still underway, and all three researchers are keen to speak with more men and women from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

They’re also keen to hear from trans people, whose inclusion in the military has been particularly challenging, and also to make sure that intersex perspectives are included.

Interested participants can find out more about the project at: http://www.lgbtimilitaryhistory.com.au/

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