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British army to
staff recruitment table at Manchester pride festival

British army to
staff recruitment table at Manchester pride festival

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Eager to find new recruits, the British army said Friday it will take part in Manchester's gay pride event this weekend, with soldiers staffing a recruitment table at the festival and marching in the parade.

Eager to find new recruits, the British army said Friday that it will take part in Manchester's gay pride festival this weekend. The army will staff a recruitment table at the festival, which is billed as one of the United Kingdom's biggest gay pride events, and 10 soldiers will march in uniform in the parade Saturday with a mix of gay men, lesbians, transvestites, and transsexuals. "I think it's great the army is coming," said festival director Claire Turner. "They're showing that they welcome gay people and the army is something gay people can be interested in." Lt. Col. Leanda Pitt, who commands recruiting efforts for the army in and around Manchester, said the parade was an opportunity to try and find new personnel. "As far as the army is concerned, sexual orientation is a private matter, and we are intending to promote the benefits a career in the army can bring," Pitt said. "Over the three days we will be able to reach a large audience and also enjoy the atmosphere that the festival brings to the city." The festival, which began Friday and ends Sunday, is expected to draw 45,000 people. The British government lifted a ban on gays serving in the country's armed forces in 2000 after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the restriction was a violation of human rights. The British soldiers will be joined by their peers in the Royal Air Force, organizers said. Twenty RAF personnel will attend and have a float in the parade featuring the cockpit of a plane. (AP)

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