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Falklands veteran has medals returned in emotional ceremony after they were taken away because of his sexuality

Lily Wakefield January 23, 2020
Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice

Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice (right), when he was originally awarded his medal in 1991. (BBC/ YouTube)

A bisexual Falklands veteran has finally had his medals returned to him, 27 years after they were stripped because of his sexuality.

Joe Ousalice, 68, served as a radio operator 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 man.

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.

The navy confiscated Ousalice’s three Good Conduct badges and a Long Service and Good Conduct medal. He said they were cut off him with scissors after he was charged.

In May, 2019, the Falklands veteran announced that he was planning to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD), represented by human rights advocacy group Liberty, to get his medals back.

In December, Ousalice received an apology from the MoD and had his military honours restored, and in a ceremony on Wednesday, January 22, he was finally re-awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

According to ITV, Ousalice said: “I thought this is 27 years of my life come to a conclusion now. I’ve actually got the medal back. I’m ecstatic but I’m slightly confused because there was so much happening.

“I needed to get so much off my chest. It was a disgrace. I couldn’t get a job afterwards. I was well fitted for every position I went for and I was being turned down because the armed forces wouldn’t give me a reference and yet here I am 27 years later.

“It was only with the help of [lawyer] Emma Norton and Liberty and the threat of taking them to the High Court in London that somebody changed their mind.”

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

Last month, it was revealed that more than 150 people have sought compensation from the UK military, claiming they were fired because of their sexual orientation.

But LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the true number of people dismissed for being LGBT+ is “likely to run into thousands” because “military witch-hunts continued unabated from the late 1940s until 1999”.

More: Joe ousalice, LGBT in the military, liberty, Ministry of Defence, Royal Navy

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