LCR Pride Foundation Patron, Caroline Paige, has welcomed the Ministry of Defence’s “Return of Medal” scheme, which was announced on Tuesday 16th February.
Thousands of soldiers who were stripped of thier service medals when they were dismissed from the British military for being homosexual will be able to have them restored, under the new initiative.
The announcement from the Ministry of Defence stated that the new initiative aimed to correct the “historic injustice” faced by LGBT+ military personnel who were banned from serving in the British military until 2000.
About 200 to 250 were thrown out each year because of their sexuality, and often had their service medals removed.
In a press release from the MoD, Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: “It is deeply regrettable that because of their sexuality some members of the Armed Forces were in the past treated in a way that would not be acceptable today.
“As a result of disciplinary action and their dismissal from service, some personnel forfeited medals that they had earned, and others were denied the opportunity of continued service that could have resulted in the restoration of medals that were forfeited for different reasons.
“I am very pleased now to be in a position to address this wrong and to invite any personnel affected or, in some circumstances, the families of those who are deceased to apply to have their medals returned.”
While the move was welcomed by LGBT+ campaigners and supporters, many considered it as a first step in a longer process, with the issue of criminal records, lost pension rights and still-blemished service records still to be addressed.
In a statement with fellow joint chief executive of Fighting With Pride, Craig Jones MBE, LCR Pride Foundation Patron Caroline Paige, said: “Today, LGBT+ veterans are finally beginning their journey back to the military family. Fighting With Pride looks forward to a better future for them, where they are recognised for their service, their health needs are supported and they are recompensed for the wrongs of the past.
“We are also pleased to see the Government’s further commitment to investigate the long-term impact of being dismissed from our Armed Forces, particularly in regard to the health, housing and employment of LGBT+ Veterans, many of whom today still live in poverty and beyond the protections of the Armed Forces Covenant.”
Fighting with Pride is a charity supporting LGBT+ veterans. To find out more, visit the website.
Image Credit: Pete Carr