Healing the wounds: seeking justice and support for LGBT+ veterans in the UK military | Bolt Burdon Kemp Healing the wounds: seeking justice and support for LGBT+ veterans in the UK military | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Healing the wounds: seeking justice and support for LGBT+ veterans in the UK military

The Ministry of Defence has come a long way in terms of acceptance and inclusion of the LGBT+ community over the past decades. Homosexuality was strictly prohibited in the British Armed Force until 2000. The Cabinet Office accepts that the pre-2000 ban was wrong and has since committed to work to understand, to acknowledge and address the effects on veterans. It is currently undertaking an independent review to examine those effects and to understand the experience of LGBT+ veterans who have served in the Armed Forces when the Ban was in force – between 1967 and 2000.

Under the ban, thousands of LGBT+ military personnel were affected in various ways: dismissed in disgrace, stripped of their medals or even criminally convicted and sentenced to prison, as recently as 1995. Many significantly lost out financially, Veterans minister Leo Docherty accepted. It is believed that the review will detail how queer service members were forced to endure ‘conversion therapy’, sexual assault, unwarranted surveillance and blackmail from their superiors (Gay soldiers ‘forced into electroshock therapy by UK military’ (thepinknews.com)).

The review is “an important step forward” in healing the damage inflicted on the LGBT+ veterans, Craig Jones MBE and Caroline Paige, Fighting With Pride Joint CEOs said.

Veterans hope to be offered mental health support, financial compensation and the restoration of pensions that were taken away. Until the report is published and the government states its intentions, it is not known what Veterans will be entitled to. There have been concerns regarding delays in publishing the report. The charity Fighting with Pride has assuredly stated that they will push to make sure that the courage of those who stepped forward to give evidence is matched by the Government who have yet to publish the long anticipated report (Facebook) . The review, carried out by chair Lord Etherton, is now believed to have concluded and submitted to the Government.

Whilst there has been some progress in terms of LGBT+ inclusion, with various policy changes and initiatives acknowledging the impact of the pre-2000 ban, it is undeniable that LGBT+ service members still face discrimination, harassment and bullying from peers and hierarchy. Many are still afraid to come out to their peers or Chain of Command, because of concerns of bullying and the impact that it may have on their careers. But the culture of fear is changing, for the better.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we are committed to support LGBT+ service members and their families to obtain the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you know has experienced a personal injury, discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other factors while service in the UK military, we are here to help.

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