Ed Hall

Rights campaigner Ed Hall to deliver the War Studies keynote at #BISA2024

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We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s War Studies keynote speaker at our annual conference in Birmingham will be Ed Hall. The title of Ed’s keynote is ‘The UK’s Armed Forces: A remarkable journey in diversity and inclusion from the 1950s to today’. Prior to Ed’s talk we will also be screening his recent Sky documentary ‘Forced out’.

In 1988, Ed Hall was arrested, interrogated and then sacked from the Royal Navy for being gay. 

He went on to found the Armed Forces Legal Challenge Group in 1994, and wrote We Can’t Even March Straight (Vintage, 1995) which became the catalyst for six years of campaigning to see the ban on lesbian and gay servicepeople lifted. In 1999, the cases Ed brought together succeeded in winning against the UK government in the European Court of Human Rights, and in January 2000, lesbian and gay servicepeople were able to serve openly for the first time.  

Since the ban was lifted, the UK’s armed forces have supported gay pride marches, created staff networks for LGBT+ staff, and senior leadership across the armed forces has embraced and celebrated the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Ed will talk us through the world that he remembers and researched from the time before the ban, and give us some unique insights into a period of remarkable social change.

Ed’s keynote adds to an exciting, diverse and engaging conference programme of over 250 panels and roundtables, a public lecture on ‘Can foreign policy of democratic states arrest the global decline of democracy?’, an evening on ‘The Anglo-American special relationship and the 2024 UK-US Elections’ sponsored by the University of Birmingham and the Foreign Policy Centre London, a lunchtime talk on the Birmingham Blitz during WW2, the ever popular 'Meet the editors', an 'Introduction to book publishing' and the annual BISA reception at the Birmingham Library.

Ed Hall is a television and technology entrepreneur, author and political activist who has campaigned for lesbian and gay rights since he was dismissed from the Royal Navy in 1988 for being gay. He has lived and worked around the world, and has contributed to a range of research and publications on the subject of LGBT rights. Most recently he appears in the 2023 Sky documentary Forced Out (Dragonfly Films), is credited in Lord Etherton’s Review of the LGBT ban, and wrote the opening chapter in Fighting With Pride (Pen and Sword Military 2020) about the campaign to lift the ban.

You can find out more about Ed on his website and in his podcast.

The War Studies keynote has become a staple in the BISA conference programme with previous speakers including Lawrence Freedman and Hew Strachan.