LGBTQ

Falklands Veteran To Have Medal Returned After Being 'Forced Out Over Sexuality'

Joe Ousalice left the Royal Navy in 1993, before rules on sexuality had been changed.

A Falklands veteran who was stripped of his Long Service and Good Conduct medal when he was forced out of the Royal Navy due to his sexuality is to have it returned by the Ministry of Defence. 

Joe Ousalice, 68, left the Royal Navy in 1993 - when LGBT people were banned from serving in the Armed Forces. This rule was changed in 2000.

Mr Ousalice said he had his medal confiscated when he was discharged, after revealing his bisexuality before a court martial – accused of being in bed with another sailor.

He was found guilty of being in bed with another sailor, which the service said was prejudicial to good order and naval discipline.

The former radio operator has always denied the charge, saying he was forced to reveal his sexuality and that was discharged from the Navy because he might "corrupt" others.

He has since planned to sue the MOD to have his confiscated medal returned to him.

It is understood that other LGBT veterans will also have their confiscated medals returned, as part of an MOD scheme.

Joe Ousalice when serving in Royal Navy Credit Liberty 10.12.19.jpg
Joe Ousalice was forced out of the Royal Navy because of his sexuality (Picture: Liberty).

Now, an MOD spokesperson said he was "treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that, we apologise". 

"In Mr Ousalice's case, he was a former radio operator who served his country in the Falklands War and the Middle East, as well as six tours of Northern Ireland and was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1991 which we will now return to him in person.

"We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved," an MOD spokesperson said.

Emma Norton, the head of legal casework at Liberty and Mr Ousalice's solicitor, called the day "a victory for equality and human rights and an important recognition of the hurt caused".

She said:

“The MOD discriminated horribly against LGBT members of the armed forces for decades.

"They subjected people to degrading and intrusive investigations into their private lives, destroying careers and damaging lives. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces, it is important to recognise the impact of this policy on our LGBT veterans."

In an 18-year career with the Royal Navy, Mr Ousalice served in the Falklands War, the Middle East, as well as six tours of Northern Ireland.

Mu Ousalice has previously told the BBC he was forced to live a “double life” in the Royal Navy, and that his medal was cut off “with a pair of scissors after the court martial”.

Cover image: Joe Ousalice (Picture: Liberty).