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More than 150 people have sought compensation from UK military after being fired for their sexuality

Lily Wakefield December 27, 2019
gay UK military

(Royal Navy)

More than 150 people have sought compensation from the UK military, claiming they were fired because of their sexual orientation, but the true number is “likely to run into thousands”.

While being gay was decriminalised in the UK in 1967, the ban on gay people serving in the armed forces was only lifted in January 2000. 

According to a Freedom of Information request by The Independent, out of 159 claims for compensation 51 have been settled, with some having been rejected or withdrawn.

LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the newspaper that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not doing enough to get compensation to those who are entitled to it.

He said: “The MoD should be contacting all those people to advise them that they are eligible for compensation.

“In the 1980s, when I was researching military dismissals, the number sacked for their sexuality was between 100 and 300 annually.”

Tatchell added that the true number of people fired from the UK military because of their sexuality “is likely to run into thousands given that the military witch-hunts continued unabated from the late 1940s until 1999”.

He continued: “Some of those military personnel not only lost their job and income, but also their home, pension and friends. Many found it very difficult to get new work.”

In contrast, a MoD spokesperson told The Independent: “We are aware of fewer than 200 cases in which individuals may have been dismissed on the grounds of their sexuality, although we accept that there may be cases that aren’t known about.”

Earlier this month, Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice finally received an apology and had his military honours restored by the MoD after he was fired and had his medals stripped because he was bisexual.

Upon receiving the apology after 27 years, Ousalice said: “I should have always been judged on the basis of my exceptional service and not my sexuality. History has shown us that a person’s sexuality has no bearing on how they perform in times of conflict.”

More: compensation, freedom of information, gay in the military, Joe ousalice, Ministry of Defence, UK military

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