An independent investigation review has been launched into the impact of the pre-2000 ban of homosexual personnel in the military.
The review will be part of the Veteran’s Strategy Action Plan which was launched this month.
There are three areas of action in this plan: The first is understanding of the veteran community, the second is transforming services for veterans and the third is recognition of our veterans’ contribution to society.
Over £70million will be spent on veterans in this plan.
In the pre-2000s, homosexuality was stigmatised to the point where people were not able to admit to their sexuality.
Those who came forward about their sexuality whilst being in the military were then banned from continuing their journey, or sent to prison.
The Office for Veterans’ Affairs will be working with charities to improve the support offered to homosexual veterans whilst the review commences.
Bournemouth Councillor David Kelsey was forced to spend six months in prison and was officially dismissed from the military.
He said: “In 1982 I was attached to a military hospital in Germany when I was approached by the military police and asked if I was gay or not, but they then went on to produce this 30-page statement someone had written about me.
“After three days of severe integration I said ‘yes I am’. They immediately jailed me allegedly for my own protection, but I spent six months in jail waiting for my court martial which at the end they said I was being discharged with disgrace from the forces and serve six months in prison.”
He argued that he had already served the six months and the judge then allowed him to leave.
The review will be asking LGBT veterans to come forward and explain how they have been impacted, including when the criminal convictions, prison sentences and dismissals took place due to the ban.
In 1978 Councillor Kelsey served in Northern Ireland where he was given medals for his courageous work but they were taken from him due to his sexuality and he still hasn’t been able to retrieve them after enquiring over a year ago.
The criminal records put upon these veterans jeopardised any future employment opportunities.
Councillor Kelsey continued: “It will be 40 years since my court martial in just a few months. I was one of the last to get jailed, but it was still 2000 before they made it okay.
“We’re talking 22 years ago, that’s a long time so why now have they decided to have a review? It just seems a bit strange how long it has taken to do anything about it.”
He discussed how he doesn’t believe there is specific support given to LGBT issues, however, the Royal British Legion now have an LGTB section which he has become a member of.
Councillor Kelsey made it clear: “They should consider us as veterans.
“I signed up with the forces, I served with the forces so why am I being targeted to be treated differently?”