UK to pardon lesbian veterans who were fired over sexuality

lesbian veterans
Lesbian veterans of the British Armed Forces will now be able to seek a pardon if they were sacked over their sexuality prior to 2000

The British Home Office has announced that it will pardon lesbian veterans who were fired under the UK’s ban on LGBTQI people serving in the military which was only repealed in 2000.

Since 2012 only male veterans have been able to apply to have their convictions for historical consensual sexual offences wiped from their official records.

Until then, male veterans could have been required to disclose those convictions during court proceedings or to potential future employers as part of seeking work.

But the Home Office is now expanding that scheme so that anyone, regardless of gender, will be able to apply if they have been convicted or cautioned under repealed offences relating to same-sex activity.

Offences under military law including “scandalous conduct” and “disgraceful conduct” as defined in the UK’s Air Force and Army Acts 1955, and the Naval Discipline Act 1957 will be covered by the changes.

Full-service honours to be restored

Lesbian veterans will also be able to apply to have any service medals restored that were stripped from them as part of their dismissals.

Welcoming the change, the UK’s Minister for Veterans Affairs, Johnny Mercer said, “The treatment of LGBT Armed Forces personnel and veterans prior to 2000 was wholly unacceptable, and today’s announcement is a clear demonstration of progress in righting these wrongs.”

“I will continue working to ensure the government meets its commitment to value and recognise every veteran’s service and experience.”

Home Office Minister Sarah Dines added, “The appalling criminalisation of homosexuality is a shameful and yet not so distant part of our history.”

“Although they can never be undone, the disregards and pardons scheme has gone some way to right the wrongs of the past.”

“I invite all of those who were convicted or cautioned for same-sex sexual activity under an abolished offence to come forward and apply.”

It is estimated that around 200 to 250 gay men and lesbians were expelled from the British armed forces each year until 2000 and over 200 gay men have already had their convictions scrapped under the scheme.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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