Border Force row erupts as agents allowed to wear LGBT pins despite Braverman order to crackdown

Border force guard

Guards are allowed to wear the LGBT symbol at work if they so wish to, according to internal documents

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 09/10/2023

- 14:25

Updated: 09/10/2023

- 16:44

Braverman has argued that wearing the symbol undermines officers' impartiality

Border Force staff are allowed to wear LGBT pins on their uniform despite Suella Braverman ordering them not to.

Guards are allowed to wear the LGBT symbol at work if they so wish to, according to internal documents.

However last month, Braverman ordered a crackdown on the symbol. She told police chiefs that “officers should not be wearing or waving badges or flags that undermine their oath of impartiality or which may lead members of the public to question their impartiality”.

She referenced the “Progress flag” which has been updated from the original rainbow pride flag.

It includes black, brown, pink, baby blue and white lines as part of an arrow, to represent marginalised people of colour in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the trans community, and those living with HIV/AIDS.

The flag’s artist, Daniel Quasar, said that “the arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made”.

Braverman said that the flag “symbolises highly-contested issues”.

In an online discussion between Home Office officials, a transgender Border Force official said that wearing a pride pin is “both welcoming and a little warning that you may have your prejudices, but we’re not going to tolerate them”, the Telegraph has revealed.

The transgender officer who works at Gatwick Airport said: “One thing I’ve pushed for, for years and years and years, thanks to [a Home Office director] we finally got, was to have rainbow epaulettes for pride, and they are a really powerful symbol because I work on the front line.


“I am the first person that many people see when they arrive in the UK, whether they are returning residents or whether they are visiting foreigners, and there can be two reactions to it: One is that we are demonstrating that we are an inclusive department and an inclusive country, and the other is demonstrating that we are an inclusive department, inclusive country, whatever you happen to think. So it’s both welcoming and a little warning that you may have your prejudices, but we’re not going to tolerate them.”

Some 40 Home Office officials took part in the online discussion which lasted an hour.

It featured members of the Spectrum, a group for Home Office LGBT officials.

It also included the Government’s LGBT+ Business Champion, Iain Anderson, who aims to drive forward workplace equality for LGBT people.

Anti-trans campaign group Sex Matters said: “Some people still use the rainbow flag to signal acceptance of gay people, but for others, it’s a symbol of extreme trans activism – the belief that men who claim to be women really are women. Public servants should be visibly fair and impartial.

A Pride flag seen above Twickenham, London

A Progressive Pride flag seen above Twickenham, London


“Wearing symbols of personal beliefs suggests they’re proselytising – and maybe even hostile to non-believers. Even if one particular symbol is harmless, the fact that it’s allowed when others aren’t shows bias.”

The discussion in September was held as part of an “inclusion week” at Whitehall, which encourages workplace diversity.

Events hosted during the week are voluntary, but one team leader said he had made the activities compulsory for his 200+ team.

The official said: “I’ve got a unit of almost 200 staff and it’s important to be able to say you can be yourself in my unit, come to work and be yourself.

“This week I made the decision to make inclusion week in my units compulsory, that everybody goes to at least one session and I can see quite a number of names from my unit who chosen [sic] to choose this particular event to come to.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force staff work tirelessly every day to keep the public safe.”

“All staff networks are voluntary as is attendance at any staff network events. We keep our diversity and inclusion policies and programmes under constant review to ensure they meet the needs and priorities of the department and our people.”

It comes after the Prime Minister stated that “a man is a man and a woman is a woman” at the Conservative Party conference last week.

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