Government apologises for ban on gay people serving in the armed forces

Gscene Editorial Team January 11, 2020

Twenty years after a ban on ‘homosexuals’ serving in the armed forces was lifted, the British Government has apologised for the first time.

Addressing a group of veterans at an event to mark the anniversary in the Houses of Parliament, Johnny Mercer MP, a Veteran himself, said the ban was “unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now”.

Mr Mercer, an Army veteran himself, said he wanted to say sorry because it was the right thing to do.

“If I am honest, it is hard to conceive – as a more contemporary veteran of our armed forces, the environment too many of you experienced when you were serving,” he said.

“Where being a member of the LGBT+ community would have got you detained, followed by a dishonourable discharge from the military, subjected to all manner of bullying and intimidation. Change is never easy; change is hard fought by some stoic individuals – for who I have supreme respect. Their experiences of serving in the Armed Forces were completely different to my own, and nowhere near what I would have wanted them to be. Volunteering to serve is an act of bravery in itself; to volunteer for the chaotic, challenging nature of service life and yet within that community, which so many of us are so proud of, experience discrimination of this sort is unacceptable.”

During the event, the MP tweeted: Special day as we kick off a weekend of celebrations to mark 20 years since lifting the ridiculous ban on LGBT+ people serving in the military. I’m sorry for the experiences you had pre 2000; our Military is far better, far more effective, and better reflects our values, with you.” 

Until the ban was lifted in 2000, anyone found to be homosexual in the armed forces was dishonourably discharged and in some cases had medals removed.

A landmark case last month saw the High Court order medals to be returned to one veteran. More cases are expected to follow.