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Paying tribute and honouring brave Anzacs

180425 CBR CateMcGregorGordonRamsayCoverCate McGregor and Gordon Ramsay MLA laid a rainbow wreath paying special tribute to brave LGBTI personnel who have served with honour and to commemorate the sacrifice of all Australian and New Zealand soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The rainbow tribute in Canberra was a joint collaboration between the ACT Government and DEFGLIS.

Cate McGregor, the most senior transgender member to serve in Defence, placed the rainbow wreath on behalf of the DEFGLIS association and reflected on the rich diversity of veterans who have fought and died for their country.

There were clearly many soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who served in the armed and supporting services who would have suppressed their sexuality based on the social morays of the time. And to those who pine for a golden era, as a military historian, I am sceptical of claims that there is a golden age from which we are in permanent retreat.

When the Australian Imperial Force went ashore on the 25th of April 1915 there were men in that force from different colonies, which were called states. Their loyalty to their state was greater than their loyalty to Australia at that time. Many of them would have never met a person from Victoria, or South Australia, or Tasmania. They would have thought they were very different they were probably very suspicious of them, they were probably scornful of many of their colleagues.    

The sectarian divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Australia was vicious at that time. Monash, who commanded our corps on the Western Front was subjected to anti-Semitism from many of his star-ranked officers. That was a diverse force, just as Australia has always been a diverse country. On the beach adjoining us, were men of the Lancashire Fusiliers who won six Victoria crosses that first morning. On the beach besides them, soldiers from India. Many Australians would never have seen a non-Indigenous black person in their life.

The force that went ashore on that day was a diverse force. We have nothing to explain to those who say diversity is a modern phenomenon.

- Cate McGregor

Gordon Ramsay MLA, ACT Attorney-General and Minister for Veterans and Seniors said that placing the wreath on behalf of the ACT government acknowledge and remembered all people who are part of the Defence Force.

"We have had a diverse Defence Force for generations, its important as we continue to build a more inclusive community, we acknowledge everyone, said Ramsay.

"We know we are a strong civil community when everyone belongs, when everyone feels valued, when everyone participates.”

The rainbow wreath honours and highlights the spectrum of diverse Australians who have served and the annual tribute commenced in 2015 following representation and urging from former LGBTI service personnel.

Rainbow wreaths were laid in cities all around Australia including Brisbane, Fremantle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

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