Liberty champions bi sailor

Human rights campaign group Liberty has taken up the case of a bisexual ex-sailor who is calling for the return of medals stripped from him when he was thown out of the Navy.

They have submitted judicial review proceedings against the Ministry of Defence.

Joe Ousalice’s career in the Royal Navy was cut short in 1993 when he was discharged on the grounds of bisexuality. That was some seven years before the ban on bisexual and gay people in the UK armed forces was repealed. The change came about thanks to a 1999 European court ruling – the Labour government of the time having fought a costly and unsuccessful legal case to retain the ban.

He said, “I was made to feel like I was disgusting and in the end I was hounded out on some trumped up charges, and told that because I was attracted to men, my 18 years of service counted for nothing. It was heart-breaking. It took me years to recover.

“All I want now is my medal and badges back, and recognition from the Government and the Royal Navy for all the years of service and hard work I gave them. And I also want other LGBT veterans to know they’re not alone, and that we all deserve the same recognition.”

The Ministry of Defence are not commenting on the specific case because of pending legal action, but a spokesperson told the BBC that “We are currently looking at how personnel discharged from service because of their sexuality, or now abolished sexual offences, can have their medals returned.”

Nearly two decades after the ban was lifted this looks like a response to the legal challenge rather than a spontaneous initiative from inside the MoD.