LGBT rights sailor rewarded for championing diversity in maritime

Second Officer Paul Owen. Image:

Second Officer Paul Owen and 15 other mariners awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for outstanding service and contribution to the maritime sector.

Trailblazing activists promoting the rights of women and LGBT+ members in the maritime community have been recognised for their achievements.

Second Officer Paul Owen is the first ever recipient of the prestigious Merchant Navy Medal for his efforts in promoting LGBT+ rights across the maritime sector.

Paul, from Blackpool, is joined by 15 other mariners awarded for outstanding service and contribution to the sector, including services for seafarer welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic, safety and security standards and training.

Second Officer Paul Owen said, “I am deeply humbled and surprised to receive this honour. I have played a small part in the Diversity in Maritime initiative whilst seconded to Maritime UK but it has broadened my knowledge of the diversity issues faced in the maritime sector through involvement in the four aspects of the programme, ethnicity, pride, women and mental health.

“Having suffered a degree of bullying early in my career because I identify as LGBT+ I made the conscious decision to offer support to fellow seafarers who were experiencing difficulties because of their sexuality. This has been on an informal basis through social media and company forums but going forward I will be appointed as the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries LGBT+ Champion when I return to the RFA this autumn,” he added on September 3.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.