UNITED KINGDOM — (02-17-21) — Gay and bisexual British veterans who were stripped of their medals because of their sexual orientation will now be able to reclaim them, the UK government announced on Tuesday, admitting the pre-2000 policy was an “historical wrong.”
Only heterosexual people were allowed to serve in the British Armed Forces until the beginning of the 21st Century, and troops whose sexuality was exposed by fellow soldiers and homophobic superiors saw their honors removed before they were discharged. Now they can now apply to have them reinstated.
It comes after a legal campaign by Falklands War veteran Joe Ousalice, who was forced out of the Royal Navy in 1993 for simply being bisexual, and who lived through poverty on his return to the country.
He previously told the BBC that, when his superiors discovered his sexuality, “they cut (the medal) off my chest with a big pair of scissors.” said Ousalice.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted in a tweet Tuesday: “Those who serve in our Armed Forces deserve every recognition for their service.
The UK government described its former policy as an “historical wrong.”
“It was a very great injustice that this was denied to some members simply because of their sexuality. I hugely welcome the fact we can now address this historic wrong.”
LGBTQ groups were excited over the news but urged the government to go further and address other consequences facing people who were discharged over their sexuality.
“It is deeply regrettable that because of their sexuality some members of the Armed Forces were in the past treated in a way that would not be acceptable today,” said Defence Minister Annabel Goldie.
Goldie’s statement further stated that “As a result of disciplinary action and their dismissal from service, some personnel forfeited medals that they had earned, and others were denied the opportunity of continued service that could have resulted in the restoration of medals that were forfeited for different reasons.” said Goldie.
The Ministry of Defense said it was “committed to addressing this historical wrong” and encouraged veterans to apply. Relatives can apply on behalf of a former troop who has died.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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