Armed Forces: Discharges

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 25th May 2022.

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Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many armed forces personnel were dishonourably discharged between 1980 and 2000 because of their sexual orientation.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what penalties were imposed on armed forces personnel who were dishonourably discharged because of their sexual orientation between 1980 and 2000.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether recompense has been made to those who lost their pensions, medals and status as a result of being dishonourably discharged due to their sexual orientation during 1980-2000.

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

The Ministry of Defence and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs within the Cabinet Office are jointly commissioning an independent review to better understand the impacts and implications of the pre 2000 ban on homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces. The review underlines Defence’s unwavering commitment to understanding how best to support its veteran and LGBT+ community. Defence recognises and accepts that its historic policies were unacceptable and that its LGBT+ veteran community suffered as a consequence.

The scope of those dishonourably discharged due to their sexual orientation is currently unknown and a cross-departmental programme of work is underway to better understand the size of the affected cohort. Defence expects the review will provide further context and insights into the lived experience of our veteran community and allow us to take effective and genuine steps towards a more inclusive future for all.

Work is currently underway to appoint an independent review chair and the independent review is expected to commence in the near future following their appointment. The independent review chair and the terms of reference for the review will be announced in due course. The independent review team can be contacted via email: Lgbtveteransreview@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Defence is proactively working with the Home Office to enable more veterans to apply for a disregard of service convictions relating to sexuality. We have also introduced policy allowing veterans to apply for restoration of medals forfeited upon dismissal based on sexuality. To date, seven applications have been received and one veteran has had their medals restored. The other cases remain under review in light of the recent Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. Every case has required careful consideration of the circumstances and reference to contemporary records – some from several decades ago. We invite any personnel who were discharged from service due to their sexuality, to apply to have their forfeited medals restored by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/military-awards-commemorations

We take the wellbeing of all those who have served extremely seriously and are determined that the Armed Forces Covenant is upheld, meaning those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly and all veterans, irrespective of when they served and how they left the Services are entitled to access the provisions of the Covenant. Former service personnel can access specialist medical care from the NHS, and every part of the UK now has a dedicated mental health service for veterans. Veterans can also call the Defence-funded 24-hour helpline, the Veterans’ Gateway, in times of need: https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk (0808 802 1212)

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