On the 1st of July LGBT+ military charity Fighting With Pride announced that LGBT+ Armed Forces veterans have accepted an invitation to march with the ‘Defence’ group which includes the uniformed Armed Forces, at Pride 50 in London.  

Veterans will meet Minister of State for Defence Baroness Goldie DL at Wellington Barracks before setting off.   

 On the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ‘gay ban’, Fighting With Pride began a campaign for restorative justice for all those who lost careers.  The ‘Gay Ban’ was ruled as Illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in September 1999 however less than 150 veterans have received compensation for the lifetime impact of losing careers. In November 2021, LGBT+ Veterans from Fighting With Pride marched in the National Service of Remembrance for the first time. (Image) 

 The LGBT Veterans Independent Review was announced by the Government in January 2022 and the Rt Hon Lord Etherton QC was announced as the Chair on 23rd June. It will now begin its year-long investigation, taking evidence to : 

  •  The consequences of the ban upon veterans including employability, finances and relationships 
  • Find out how veterans services can be made more accessible. 
  • Make recommendations about how those who lost careers can be recognised and how the impact of the ban can be mitigated.  This will include financial mitigation. 

 

Fighting With Pride Joint Chief Executives, Caroline Paige and Craig Jones MBE said: 

‘This is an incredible moment of inclusion at a time when there is universal support for Fighting With Pride’s campaign for justice for LGBT+ veterans. Veterans will wear their medals with immense pride as they take their place alongside the uniformed Armed Forces’ 

‘Fighting With Pride is immensely proud of the service of LGBT+ veterans, who met the challenges of service in the Armed Forces and so many additional challenges placed in their path’ 

‘Fighting with Pride is grateful to Service Chiefs and the Chief of the Defence Staff for a moment of inclusion at Pride 50 when the Armed Forces family will be complete’ 

 

Royal Corps of Signals Veteran, Trevor Skingle said:  

‘Fighting With Pride has helped me find again the comradeship of the Armed Forces which I lost when I left the Army.’  

‘As I march in Pride 50 I will once again feel the Pride I lost with my career as an Army Physical Training Instructor so long ago’   

 

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Veteran, Simon Langley said:   

‘I am immensely proud to join LGBT+ veterans at Pride 50, who for the first time march alongside serving members of our Armed Forces.’   

‘I am grateful to Fighting With Pride for their incredible work to support all those whose military careers were cut short.’  

 

The Armed Forces ‘Gay Ban’ 

 Prior to the ban being lifted in 2000, Armed Forces personnel who were thought to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender were arrested, searched and questioned by the SpecialI Investigation Branch of the Military Police. After harrowing investigations, often lasting days, many were taken to military hospitals and subjected to degrading and shameful medical inspections. At Court Martial, service medals were ripped from their uniforms. Many served months in prison, for the military criminal offence of being ‘homosexual’. 

Thousands were kicked out of the Armed Forces due to ‘services no longer required’, or were ‘dismissed in disgrace’, with criminal records as sex offenders. They lost their careers and their pensions, and many were told never again to use their military rank or wear their uniform. Their names were erased from the ‘Retired List’ of personnel. In the process, many were ‘outed’ to family and friends, which meant losing them too. 

They suffered blighted careers, homelessness, estrangement, financial instability, unemployment and mental health issues. Some turned to veterans charities – but at the time, many would not help veterans who had been ‘dismissed in disgrace’. 

 

The Lifting of The Ban in 2000 

The ban was lifted on 12 January 2000 after years of legal wrangling, in which the Ministry of Defence and several senior Armed Forces personnel fought hard to keep it in place. The case was eventually won in September 1999 at the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the ban broke the Human Rights Convention which safeguards the right to privacy. 

Twenty-two years on, the Government has begun to make some reparations. Last year the Ministry of Defence announced that veterans can reclaim medals that were confiscated, and the Minister for Defence People and Veterans made a personal statement of apology, but despite Ministers pledging ‘recognition and recompense’ for the thousands affected by years of illegal prohibition, little has been done to address the wider impacts of the ban. 

 

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