The dreaded Special Investigation Branch


The British armed forces are now a good employer of gay men and lesbians but Chris Root, a former soldier, still has painful memories of being thrown out of the army for being a lesbian. Root, a radar operator, began having sexual relationships with other female soldiers soon after joining up but was quickly made aware that discovery would result in investigation by the Special Investigations Branch. “Everyone was terrified of the SIB,” said Root, who had begun to suspect that she was being scrutinised under the “McCarthy-like regime”. Unable to cope with the pressure, Root handed herself in to the SIB 100 days before her four years were up. “The dread of having my personal possessions raked through and my friends questioned became unbearable.”

Root says that other women under suspicion were dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, made to put on full dress uniform, and interrogated for days. “You would be asked to grass up other women and to disclose intimate details of your sex life. They would break you down until you did not know who you were. I had seen it happen to other women. But I could never have imagined how bad it was for me. Those remaining days felt like 100 years.”



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