Sacked LGBT Veterans Can Reclaim Removed Medals
LGBT veterans who were dismissed from the military can now reclaim the medals they lost.
Under a new scheme to address the wrongs of the past, former personnel can apply to the Ministry of Justice to ask for their awards to be returned.
Speaking about the move, Defence minister Baroness Goldie said it was time to return the awards earned by those who were forced to forfeit them when they were dismissed from the armed forces due to their sexuality.
She said: "I am very pleased now to be in a position to address this wrong and to invite any personnel affected or, in some circumstances, the families of those who are deceased to apply to have their medals returned."
The ban on LGBT personnel serving in the British armed forces was lifted in 2000.
But this latest move comes after Joe Ousalice, a veteran of the Falklands War, who was kicked out of the Royal Navy in 1993 after 18 years of service due to him being bisexual, won his battle to have his medals returned.
He also served in the Middle East and completed six tours of Northern Ireland.
In an interview with the BBC last year, Mr Ousalice said he received no support from the military after his dismissal.
He said: "I was taken to the captain of HMS Portland Naval Base and told in no uncertain terms how disgusting people such as I had no place in the armed forces.
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"[The captain said] he revolted in the thought of me and wanted me out as soon as possible.
"They just chucked me out with no back up, no support from anybody. I had no money coming in," he said.
"I lost my house in Cornwall, I lost my family, I was looking for work left, right and centre, and basically I was pinching food from farmers' fields to survive."
A statement from the MoD at the time explained the previous process.
It read: "Prior to 2000, a number of armed forces personnel were discharged from service on the basis of their sexuality.
"Some received convictions under specified legislation for homosexual behaviour that has now been decriminalised, while others were discharged solely on the basis of their sexuality, without any conviction.
"In the course of their discharge, some personnel either forfeited medals directly, or were prevented from continuing to serve and thus denied the ability to regain medals that might previously have been forfeited for unrelated reasons.
"The MoD is committed to addressing this historical wrong and is introducing a policy which enables individuals to apply to have their medals restored."
Each case will be reviewed by the MoD's Medal Council, and the relatives of former personnel affected by the LGBT ban will be able to apply for their medals to be returned.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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