LGBT Armed Forces Personnel: Courts Martial

Defence – in the House of Commons on 13th June 2022.

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Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

How many LGBT armed forces personnel were court-martialled on account of their sexuality in the most recent period for which data is available prior to 2001.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

We acknowledge wholeheartedly the fact that historically some service personnel were thrown out of the service purely because of their sexuality, which was deeply unjust. For that reason, we have commissioned an independent review. That will assess some of the figures involved, which is indeed a grey area, and we look forward to announcing that in due course.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

At a recent meeting with the organisation Fighting With Pride, I was horrified to hear that until 2001, LGBT servicemen and women were routinely court-martialled and dismissed; they lost their pensions and the right to wear their medals or their berets on Remembrance Sunday. That was an outrage, as the Minister correctly said. A far bigger outrage, however, is that that injustice has not been corrected. To this day, gay people—gay servicemen—from that time still have no pension and are treated with contempt by the armed service, which is absolutely disgraceful. I welcome the fact that he has set up an inquiry into that, although he has not yet appointed a chairman, but we need far more than an inquiry: we need those people to be pardoned and for them to get their dignity and humanity back.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Fighting With Pride; I commend its activity and rightful advocacy in this area. I entirely agree with him and I am pleased to say that there is a highly credible and eminent individual who will chair the review. My hopeful expectation is that we will make the formal announcement next week to coincide with Armed Forces Week.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Defence)

Before Labour lifted the ban on LGBT personnel serving in our armed forces, thousands of LGBT personnel were hounded out of service, removed and abandoned after serving with pride. I welcome Ministers allowing sacked personnel to wear medals, but there are further restrictions, including written orders from commanding officers saying that the sacked personnel will not be able to wear headwear or insignia as veterans. Does the Minister agree that until all restrictions are lifted on those personnel, and pension issues resolved, the MOD will remain in breach of the military covenant?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Of course, I absolutely agree and I am pleased to say that the scope of the review will be very broad and that the Government will listen with compassion and sincerity to the recommendations of the independent reviewer. We hope that will provide a path towards delivering justice.