UNITED KINGDOM — (06-22-22) — Great Britain’s first openly gay senior judge, Lord Etherton, will lead a review into the impact of the country’s historical ban on LGBT veterans serving in the armed forces. Lord Etherton’s inquiry will look at how veterans were affected by the discrimination of being gay.
LGBTQ advocates are hoping for compensation for lost livelihoods and suffering as well as mental health support for LGBT veterans. The review will apply to LGBT veterans who served between 1967, when gay sex began to be decriminalized, and 2000.
Until then it was illegal to be gay in the British military where you have more than 5,000 people in the armed forces thought to be LGBT. Those who were, or perceived to be LGBT, faced intrusive investigations and were dismissed or otherwise forced out of the military. Many still have the conviction on their criminal record.
Several LGBT veterans say it meant a complete loss of income due to years of missed pension contributions.
In the review, expected to start in the next few weeks, Lord Etherton will be asked to recommend ways in which the government could “seek to mitigate any impacts, including any financial impact”.
The independent review was launched as part of the UK’s government’s Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan. Lord Etherton was appointed by Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and the prime minister’s chief aide, Steve Barclay.
Lord Etherton said he wants to provide a “safe space” for veterans to share their stories.
“This will allow me to make measured recommendations as to how the government can meet their commitment to ensure that all veterans’ experiences are understood and valued,” said Etherton.
One story that has gone viral is veteran David Bonney who served four months in a military prison in Colchester in 1995 after being convicted of “homosexual conduct” while working for the RAF as a medic.
Sources inside the inquiry say that the review could take up to 12 months to complete.
“There are people with serious issues, cancers and such,” add Mr Bonney. “It would be nice if they could get everything resolved before they die. More likely to reach the right conclusions” as someone who “knows what it’s like to hide your true self”. said Bonney.
The review comes after years of campaigning by the CEOs of Charity Fighting with Pride, Caroline Paige and Craig Jones.
“The announce brings hope to veterans who served at a time when they were not welcomed in the armed forces as LGBT personnel are today. They have faced immense challenges in their lives in consequence of the ban and today’s announcement brings hope for a better future,” said Caroline Paige and Craig Jones in a joint statement.
Since announcement of the review, around 400 veterans have come forward to share their stories with the charity.
Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
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