Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Soldiers dismissed for being gay can reclaim forfeited medals

The BBC and the Guardian are reporting comments by Baroness Goldie, Minister of State for Defence promising that any former service person (or their families) whose medals or decorations were forfeited upon being convicted for homosexuality before the ban on homosexuals serving in HM Forces was finally lifted in 2000, can apply for their return.

Whilst it is high time this historic injustice was addressed, particularly following the case of Joe Ousalice, it is not clear what the mechanism for the return of their decorations is. The Armed Forces Bill currently progressing through Parliament deals with pardons for historical service offences under the Army Discipline and Regulation Act 1879, the Articles of War of 1749 and the Articles of War of 1878 which cover sexual acts that are no longer unlawful. Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer (late 29th Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery) has said he is ashamed by this historic injustice. However, nothing has been said about restoring the lost pension payments and pay caused by these convictions. Hopefully as LGBT+ History Month progresses HM Government will annoucne something to address those issues as well. 

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