A British veteran forced from the navy because of his sexuality is being offered his medals back and an apology from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) over his treatment.
Joe Ousalice, 68, says he was ‘made to feel disgusting’ for who he was after a court-martial found him guilty of ‘conduct prejudicial to good order and naval discipline’ in 1993.
He had served for almost 18 years as a radio operator before his discharge, which saw him stripped of his long service benefits and his medals, some of which he earned for duty in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War.
It was illegal for LGBT people to be in the British armed forces until the law was changed in 2000.
After nearly 30 years of legal battles, an out-of-court decision was announced this week and Mr Ousalice, from Southampton, will have his medals returned at a ceremony next week.
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The MoD has also offered what is thought to be its first official apology over the Government department’s treatment of LGBT personnel.
Following his campaign, the MOD announced plans to restore medals to all affected personnel ahead of the 20th anniversary of ending the ban that will be marked in January.
In a statement, it said: ‘Back in 1993, because of his sexuality, Mr Ousalice was treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that we apologise.
‘We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.’ Mr Ousalice said: ‘I want other LGBT veterans to know they’re not alone, and that we all deserve the same recognition.’
The move is one of several by British governments taking measures to atone for past discrimination against LGBT people.
In Scotland, gay men convicted under homophobic laws were officially pardoned in October.
Mr Ousalice’s appeal was backed by human rights organisation Liberty, who slammed the MOD for subjecting people ‘to degrading and intrusive investigations into their private lives, destroying careers and damaging lives’.
The group’s head of legal casework Emma Norton said: ‘Today is a victory for equality and human rights and an important recognition of the hurt caused.’