Government Says Sorry

Parliament

A government minister has said sorry for the hounding and expulsion of bisexual and gay people in the armed forces.

Until 1999 bi and gay people found in the military faced losing their careers, along with medals, benefits and any other kind of transitionary help to returning to civilian life.

Conservative and Labour governments including the Blair government defended the ban, which was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights in 1999.

After the ECHR ruling, the ban was lifted on 12 January 2000 – and so current defence minister Johnny Mercer MP hosted a small reception for former servicepeople at the Houses of Parliament.

Sky News reports that he addressed them saying, “It is hard to conceive – as a more contemporary veteran of our armed forces, the environment too many of you experienced when you were serving.”

“Where being a member of the LGBT+ community would have got you detained, followed by a dishonourable discharge from the military.

“Volunteering to serve is an act of bravery in itself; to volunteer for the chaotic, challenging nature of service life and yet within that community, which so many of us are so proud of, experience discrimination of this sort is unacceptable.”

Last month the Ministry of Defence was forced to hand back medals confiscated from one former serviceman after more than twenty years.