A lesbian soldier who was dismissed from the army for being gay more than 20 years ago, is to research the role of lesbian recruits.

Dr Joan Heggiue, 46, was thrown out of the armed forces in 1984, after serving for eight years, when gay recruits were not allowed to serve.

The law was changed in 2000, and Ms Heggiue, a research fellow at the University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, now wants to talk to lesbians who served before and after the ban to see if things have improved.

She told the Press Association, “I was army barmy and devastated when I was dismissed for being gay.

“I lost my income, somewhere to live and friendship networks. I was also unemployed for six months and had to stay with friends because my parents didn’t know why I’d been dismissed.

“My research is aimed at women who served before and after 2000, or who have even left the forces since then.

“The kinds of issues I’ll look at include whether lesbians now more open about their sexuality in the workplace?

“Do they take their partners to functions? Are the armed forces taking the new civil partnerships into consideration, for example with pensions or postings abroad for lesbian couples?

“Respondents don’t need to be living or serving in the UK. Lesbians serving in all parts of the world, including Iraq, are welcome to reply.”