The UK Ministry of Defense announced on Tuesday (16) that it will return the decorations to military personnel dismissed because of their sexuality, which occurred in the country until 2000. The estimate is that until then , from 200 to 250 soldiers were expelled per year, most with lost medals.
According to the British government, the measure should benefit both those who were convicted of “homosexual behavior”, under specific legislation at the time, and those who were simply dismissed because of their sexual orientation, without any conviction.
According to gay rights organization Stonewall, today’s ruling “will go a long way to correcting the mistakes of the past.” The NGO attributes the result to the campaign developed by Joe Ousalice, 70, who went to court to recover the lost medal in 1993 when LGBT people were banned from serving in the armed forces.
Bisexual, he served in the Falklands War in Northern Ireland and conflicts in the Middle East, earning him an award for Long Service and Good Conduct in 1991 in 1991. In 1992, he was arrested and recognized guilty of “serious indecency”. In 2019, when he started his case against the Defense Ministry, Ousalice told the BBC: “A guy came up with scissors and said ‘sorry buddy I need your medal’ and just cut me off “.
The ex-soldier says he felt immense loneliness, with no one to rely on. He suffered financial losses due to reduced pensions and difficulties in finding a new job. In 2020, after winning the lawsuit, he recovered the medal and received an apology from the government, which promised to review the situation of all similar cases.
In Tuesday’s announcement, the Defense Ministry called the military’s dismissal a historic error, but Ousalice said removing and returning the decorations was not enough because there is still no compensation for people punished for impact on pensions. The government said it “was trying to examine and understand the broad impact of pre-2000 practices”, but did not specify any other recourse.
In 2017, new legislation allowed forgiveness for those who had been convicted of consensual same-sex relationships in the past. The new rule became known as Turing’s Law, named after Alan Turing, who helped the British decipher the codes of Nazi warfare, but was then prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 and subjected to chemical castration. .
The mathematician died in 1954, days before he was 42, poisoned by cyanide (at the time the case was recorded as suicide), and his story was told in the book “Alan Turing: l ‘enigma’ and later filmed in ‘The Game da Imitação’, which won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2015.