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LGBT British Forces Veterans Independent Review
Dave Walsh, a gay former corporal and PinkUk founder, explains why a government review of persecution of LGBTQ+ people in the British armed forces is long overdue.
In the UK, it was an offence under the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957 to be guilty of “any disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent and unnatural kind” or “any conduct …to the prejudice of good order and …discipline”. That meant being gay or lesbian or related categories.
This is recent history. As late as 2000, ‘homosexual’ acts were still regarded as falling within both of those descriptions. LGBTQ+ identifying forces personnel would be summarily sacked from their positions if they were outed or declared their sexual orientation.
Since then, views have changed and the Government has established an independent review to call for people to come forward to testify consider the impact of these rules on LGBTQ+ forces personnel.
The Call for Evidence is seeking testimony and views from individuals and organisations on the impact of the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces. The Review is seeking to better understand the experience of those who served in the Armed Forces between 1967 and 2000.
This is not just for those that were directly affected, so if you identify as LGBTQ+ and had action taken against you, had to hide your sexuality and all the sociological affects this had. Now, at last, a light is being shone on the distress suffered by those whose dreams, lives and ambitions were shattered, leaving behind bitterness and distrust.
But also, those that were indirectly affected by this ban. This could fall into many brackets, ie you could have been related to an individual, you could have been a Royal Military Police officer, an army officer or an individual soldier, sailor or RAF personnel that helped enforce the ban.
The 'UK's LGBTQ+gay military ban left lives and ambitions shattered - LGBTQ+ veterans must now have their stories heard' Lord Etherton, a senior judge leading the review, who identifies as gay, urges LGBTQ veterans to come forward to share evidence.Examples of mistreatment
- Put in prison
- Dishonourable discharge
- Forced to give back medals
The call for evidence has been designed to be user-friendly, quick to fill in and easily accessible. Individuals will be able to come forward through an online survey here or via Freepost. Regardless of where they live, veterans affected by the UK armed forces ban will be able to provide their testimony to the call for evidence.
Lord Etherton PC QC said: “The object of the Review is to provide evidence based recommendations to the government as to how best the government can meet its commitment to ensure that all veterans’ experiences are understood and their military service valued, and how best to acknowledge and remedy the injustice of dismissal of LGBT service personnel prior to 2000 on the grounds of their sexual orientation. This call for evidence will ensure that veterans can share their experiences. I encourage all those affected by the ban to come forward with testimony in this safe environment, to shape the review’s recommendations.”
The review will consider the experiences of LGBT veterans and their families in the context of the pre-2000 ban, including the nature of dismissal, the impact this had on their subsequent lives.
From these testimonies, the review team will be able to make evidence-based recommendations as to how the government can meet its commitment in the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan and ensure the service and experience of every LGBT veteran is understood and valued.
I have submitted my experience to the review, and would encourage all service personal that have been affected directly or indirectly to submit their experience.
More information about the Review and call for Evidence form can be found at
Contact the review
If you wish to ask a question about the Review, please email them at: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Review team aim to respond within 20 working days, however, it may take longer to respond in busier periods.
Alternatively, you can write to the Review team at:
LGBT VETERANS INDEPENDENT REVIEW