Image of the Ministry of Defence Main Building HQ in London, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban CREDIT MOD 09.01.20.jpg
The review will apply to veterans who served between 1967 – when homosexual acts began to be decriminalised – and 2000 (Picture: MOD).
LGBTQ

Senior judge named to lead review of treatment of LGBT veterans

In January, the Government launched an independent review into the impact of the pre-2000 ban on homosexual personnel in the military.

Image of the Ministry of Defence Main Building HQ in London, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban CREDIT MOD 09.01.20.jpg
The review will apply to veterans who served between 1967 – when homosexual acts began to be decriminalised – and 2000 (Picture: MOD).

The Government has announced the senior judge who will lead the review into the impact of a historical ban on LGBT people serving in the Armed Forces.

The Rt Hon the Lord Etherton QC will be the chair of the review announced in January examining the experience of LGBT veterans affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces.

As part of the Veterans' Strategy Action Plan, the independent review will provide the opportunity for the Government to better understand the lived experience of LGBT veterans, who served prior to 2000, including how being discharged from the military because of their sexuality affected their life.

The announcement of the chair of the review forms part of the Government's wider measures for veterans this Armed Forces Week.

January saw the launch of the Government's Veterans' Strategy Action Plan of more than 60 commitments backed by an extra £70m.

According to the Government, significant progress has been made with more than a fifth of commitments already completed after six months.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: "The historic ban was wrong and those who were thrown out of the military purely because of their sexuality suffered and we acknowledge that.

"This review will help us better understand the impact and I am delighted that the highly eminent Lord Etherton will be chairing it.

"We look forward to seeing the outcome of the review and reviewing the recommendations," he added.

Watch: In January, the independent review into the impact of pre-2000 ban on gay personnel was launched.

Lord Etherton is a crossbench member of the House of Lords and was the first openly gay judge of the Senior Courts.

He entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and same-sex marriage in 2014. 

Formerly he was the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal and the Head of Civil Justice in England and Wales.

Lord Etherton is an honorary professor of law at Birkbeck, London University, and he has also served as chair of the Law Commission of England and Wales and as Chancellor of the High Court.

On his appointment to the independent review, Lord Etherton said: "I am extremely pleased to be appointed as the chair of the independent review into the treatment of LGBT veterans by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Defence. 

"This is an important review that will provide an opportunity for veterans across the country who were affected by the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality to share their testimonies in a safe environment."

He went on: "This will allow me to make measured recommendations as to how the Government can meet their commitment to ensure that all veterans' experiences are understood and valued ."

The review

The review team will make evidence-based recommendations as to how the Government can meet its commitment to the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan and ensure the service and experience of every LGBT veteran are understood and valued.

Lord Etherton is expected to report his recommendations next year. 

The review follows steps the Government has already taken to enable those who forfeited medals for reasons relating to their sexuality to apply to have them returned.

The Home Secretary also announced an expansion to the scope of a scheme which enables those with historic convictions for same-sex sexual activity to apply to have their caution or conviction disregarded.

According to the Government, the expansion will greatly increase the number of veterans able to benefit from the scheme.

The Office for Veterans' Affairs will continue to work with the charity sector to support individuals through issues that may arise from the historic ban on LGBT persons serving in the Armed Forces.

Charles Byrne, Director General of the Royal British Legion, responded to the announcement of an independent review and the chair appointment.

He said: "This is an important step towards investigating and taking action to redress the harm caused by the pre-2000 ban on people from the LGBTQ+ community serving in the Armed Forces.

"The RBL will support veterans and families affected by the ban to share their experiences with the review team."

He added: "The service and sacrifice of all Armed Forces personnel must be recognised and respected."