The UK Armed Forces has been ranked the second-most gay-friendly military in the world by Netherlands-based independent research group, Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS).
Sharing second spot with the Netherlands, Britain received top scores for putting the gay community at the forefront of all policies and practices around admission, tolerance, inclusion, exclusion, and persecution.
New Zealand tops the first ever index, which ranked the armed forces of 103 countries by its inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members, in a transparent, systematic, and comparable overview of 20 policies and best practices.
UK Defence Minister Anna Soubry said: "The single services want to create a workforce, both regular and reserve that is drawn from the breadth of the society we defend, that gains strength from that society’s range of knowledge, experience and talent and that welcomes respects and values the unique contribution of every individual."
Australia came in fifth, while the US Armed Forces, which abolished the controversial ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that forced gay personnel to hide their sexuality in September 2011, ranked relatively low at 40th behind Chile, Georgia and Cuba.
HCSS is expected to publish a full report based on the LGBT military index in May 2014.
The ranking comes weeks after the UK MoD received the ‘Most Improved Employer’ in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2014.
The UK Army entered the top 100 list for the first time, sharing 79th place with the Royal Navy, while the Royal Air Force (RAF) was placed at 108th position in the Stonewall Index.
Image: UK Army personnel taking part in the 2012 World Pride march London. Photo: Crown copyright.