In LGBT History Month, Stephen Bourne reveals how, during a rare period of tolerance, gay men and lesbians served with distinction in the Second World War

Though male homosexuality remained a criminal offence in the UK until the 1960s, it was unofficially tolerated by the armed services for the duration of World War Two. Some gay men could be open and were protected by their comrades. Others became ‘mascots’. But it was a risky world where tolerance was far from guaranteed. No-one spoke about the same-sex relationships that took place because outed gay men risked being court-martialled, imprisoned and thrown out of the services – on the grounds that homosexuality would destroy the morale of the troops.

For lesbians, it was different situation.

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