LGBTQ

Falklands Veteran Calls For MOD Compensation After Having Medal Returned

Joe Ousalice regained his Long Service and Good Conduct medal 27 years after he had it taken away over his sexuality.

A Falklands veteran has had one his medals returned, 27 years after he left the Royal Navy because of his sexuality.

Joe Ousalice says he now wants compensation from the Ministry of Defence for him and other veterans who were made to leave the armed forces.

Mr Ousalice, who is bisexual, was re-awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal and three Good Conduct badges in a ceremony at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth on Wednesday.

He told Forces News he had hoped for decades to have his Long Service and Good Conduct medal returned and said he "never" thought he would get it back.

"This will go on display and I'll get a duplicate made of it, and I'll have that with my other six medals," he said.

"It is just a medal, but it means so much to me."

The medal was presented to Mr Ousalice by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Mr Ousalice was discharged from the Royal Navy in 1993 when there was a ban on gay and bisexual people serving in the Armed Forces.

The ban was lifted in 2000.

The 68-year-old veteran said he "went in" on Mr Wallace about the treatment he received.

"I explained [to Mr Wallace] about what had happened to me," Mr Ousalice said.

"I lost my house, I lost my girlfriend, I went heavily into debt, all because of this ridiculous ban.

"He agreed on almost everything I said - I also mentioned compensation for hundreds of people not too similar to myself and he said they 'would be looking at it'.

Ben Wallace hands medal over to Joe Ousalice 220120 CREDIT BFBS/LIBERTY
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (left) gave Joe Ousalice his medal back.

"I wasn't prepared to let that go and I pushed for an answer, I told him he hadn't answered my question and said: 'Are you going to make a payment to all these people?'.

"Again, he skirted around it and said they're 'looking at all avenues' and that they'll be coming back in the next few months with a decision on it."

The ceremony was not opened up to the media, something Mr Ousalice said he was "totally against".

The Ministry of Defence said 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," it added.

Mr Ousalice spent 18 years in the Royal Navy as a radio operator - serving in the Falklands War, the Middle East and completing six tours of Northern Ireland.

Joe Ousalice when serving in Royal Navy Credit Liberty 10.12.19.jpg
Joe Ousalice during his Royal Navy service.

Mr Ousalice says he wants the MOD to pay compensation to him and other veterans who have left the military in similar circumstances to himself.

"I was an LROG and they disrated me to an RO," Mr Ousalice said.

The change in his rank meant changes in the amount of his monthly pension after retirement.

"All he is asking for is the difference back," explained Emma Norton, from legal team, Liberty.

"Everybody's claim for compensation will probably be different because the circumstances in which people were chucked out all differ slightly.

"It is going to be a complex process, but what Joe is asking for, is an in-principle agreement from the Ministry of Defence to look into the best way to compensate people."

Forces News has asked the MOD for comment regarding Mr Ousalice's claim for compensation.

Cover image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hands Joe Ousalice his medal.