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Bisexual veteran discharged over sexuality is suing to get medals back

Lily Wakefield May 8, 2019
Bisexual Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice

Bisexual Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice. (BBC2)

A British Royal Navy veteran who was discharged for being bisexual is planning to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to get his medals back.

Joe Ousalice, 68, fought in the Falklands War in 1982, as well as serving in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, during his 18-year career in the Royal Navy.

The navy took Ousalice to military court in 1993 and found him guilty of being in bed with another male soldier.

He still denies the charge but the fact that he is bisexual was revealed during the hearing, and the navy discharged him so that he would not “corrupt” others.

It only became legal to be gay or bisexual in the UK military in 2000.

The navy confiscated Ousalice’s three Good Conduct badges, one Good Conduct medal and his Long Service medal. Ousalice claims they were cut off him with scissors after he was charged.

Sailor greeting child after returning from Falklands War
A Royal Navy serviceman returns to Portsmouth after the Falklands War. (Hulton Archive/Getty)

The navy was Joe Ousalice’s life

Ousalice told the BBC: “The navy wasn’t just my job, it was my life. But to do it I had to hide another important part of me, which I did because I loved the navy life so much I didn’t want to give it up. But I shouldn’t have been asked to choose.

“I was made to feel like I was disgusting and in the end I was hounded out on some trumped up charges, and told that because I was attracted to men, my 18 years of service counted for nothing. It was heartbreaking. It took me years to recover.”

Ousalice is represented by Liberty, a human rights advocacy group, which “challenges injustice, defends freedom and campaigns to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly.”

His lawyers say that he was dismissed “entirely because of his sexuality,” and Liberty are calling for other veterans who were dismissed for being LGBT+ to have their medals returned to them.

A spokesperson from the Military of Defence told the BBC it would be “inappropriate” to comment as legal proceedings are still going on.

They added: “We are currently looking at how personnel discharged from service because of their sexuality, or now abolished sexual offences, can have their medals returned.”

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