The Ministry of Defence have said that it wants to address a “historical wrong” with the launch of the scheme.
Until the year 2000, LGBT military personnel had to hide their sexuality in order to serve.
Johnny Mercer, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans, said on Twitter:
“I’m determined to address the scars of our past. So from today, we are opening up a process to reinstate operational medals to those who were stripped of them just for being gay. Thank you for your service, and I’m sorry for what happened to you.”
I’m determined to address the scars of our past. So from today, we are opening up a process to reinstate operational medals to those who were stripped of them just for being gay.
Thank you for YOUR service, and I’m sorry for what happened to you. ?️? https://t.co/tKVUduKoKc
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) February 16, 2021
Writing in iNews here, Mercer said:
“Today we regard our diversity as one of our greatest strengths. We have an LGBT Champion and a range of active military and civilian staff networks that support LGBT personnel. Same-sex couples have been able to co-habit in all service accommodation since last year. We’ve celebrated as personnel from all three services marched with their civilian counterparts in Pride events. We’ve illuminated our main building in Whitehall with rainbow colours to recognise the value of our LGBT colleagues. But while Defence has come a long way, not all of our veterans have been able to move on. Consider the case of veteran Joe Ousalice. He served on board the MV Myrmidon as part of the task force dispatched to liberate the Falkland Islands after the Argentinean invasion in 1982. His career included six tours of duty in Northern Ireland and secondment to a Nato task force. But, despite a distinguished career, Joe’s hard earned medals for long service and good conduct were shamefully taken away from him as a result of his sexuality.
We can’t turn the clock back but we can make amends. That’s why last year, 27 years after his medals were confiscated, the Defence Secretary personally handed Mr Ousalice his medal back. Sadly, Joe’s experience is not unique. Others have forfeited medals too.
So, as we celebrate our LGBT heroes this month, with LGBT History Month, we pledge to do more than praise their enormous contribution to our armed forces. We vow to restore the respect of all those wronged individuals. For some time the MoD has been working hard to rectify the complex legal and practical issues surrounding this unfair medal policy. As a result, from today, we are inviting any personnel affected or, in some cases, the families of those no longer with us, to apply to have their cherished medals returned. All those who believe they are eligible should visit the gov.uk website for further details.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Those who serve in our Armed Forces deserve every recognition for their service. It was a very great injustice that this was denied to some members simply because of their sexuality. I hugely welcome the fact we can now address this historic wrong.”