Falklands veteran 'forced out over sexuality' will get medal back

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionJoe Ousalice told the BBC in May he was left isolated by his sacking from the Navy

A Falklands veteran forced out of the Royal Navy over his sexuality will have a military honour returned.

Joe Ousalice, 68, served as a radio operator for 18 years but was discharged in 1993 because of a ban of LGBT people in the armed forces.

He completed six tours of duty in Northern Ireland and was seconded to a Nato task force.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) admitted its policy was “wrong, discriminatory and unjust”.

Mr Ousalice, who lives in Southampton, was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and three Good Conduct badges.

But the medal was stripped from him when he was discharged because his bisexuality was believed to be “prejudicial to good order and naval discipline”.

It is understood a scheme will be set up to return medals to other veterans in the future.

Image copyright
Joe Ousalice

Image caption

Joe Ousalice (right) receiving a medal

Mr Ousalice said he was left unemployed and penniless and had to scavenge for potatoes at a local farm to feed himself.

“The Navy wasn’t just my job, it was my life,” he said.

“But to do it I had to hide another important part of me, which I did because I loved the navy life so much I didn’t want to give it up. But I shouldn’t have been asked to choose.

“I want other LGBT veterans to know they’re not alone and that we all deserve the same recognition.”

Image copyright
Joe Ousalice

Image caption

Mr Ousalice (highlighted) has not sought compensation and says he just wants his medals back

Mr Ousalice will be presented with his Long Service and Good Conduct medal at a ceremony later.

He has been represented by human rights group Liberty.

Emma Norton, its head of legal casework and Mr Ousalice’s lawyer, 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.”

The MoD said Mr Ousalice was “treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that we apologise”.

It added: “We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.”

The ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces was lifted in 2000.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *