Bisexual Navy veteran who had medal confiscated gets it returned

MoD apologises to Falklands veteran who was forced out of Royal Navy in 1983 after 18 years service because he was bisexual – and will now return his long service medal in person

  • Joe Ousalice, 68, claims he had his medal taken away after revealing sexuality 
  • He was in the Navy for 18 years, touring Falklands, Middle East and N Ireland  
  • Gay people were’nt allowed to serve in UK military until law changed in 2000 
  • ***Are you a veteran who had a medal confiscated on the grounds of sexuality? Email [email protected] or call 0203 615 1637***

A Falklands veteran who claims he was forced to leave the Royal Navy because of his sexuality is to have his medal returned to him.

Joe Ousalice, 68, of Southampton, was given a medal for long service and good conduct, but had it confiscated when he was discharged for revealing his bisexuality during a court martial in 1993.

The Ministry of Defence has now said he was ‘treated in a way that would not be acceptable today’ and plans to give the medal back to him in person. 

MoD officials have apologised, adding in a statement: ‘We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.’

Joe Ousalice, 68, is pictured on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, where he revealed he had his Navy medals stripped after his sexuality came out in a 1993 court martial 

The Ministry of Defence has now said he (pictured during his service) was ‘treated in a way that would not be acceptable today’ and will have the medal returned to him

Gay people were not allowed to serve in the military until a rule change in 2000. 

Mr Ousalice was in the Navy for 18 years, working as a radio operator in the Falklands War, the Middle East as well as completing six tours of Northern Ireland.

He earned a Long Service and Good Conduct medal and three good conduct badges during his service. 

Homosexuality in the British Army and the law

Gay, lesbian and bisexual people were not allowed to serve in the UK Armed Forces until 2000. 

The change in law came after two people took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Jeanette Smith, who was discharged from the RAF, and Duncan Lustig Prean, who was being thrown out of the Navy, took legal action against the Army with the help of the LGBT charity Stonewall. 

They argued their dismissals were a violation of their human rights and finally won their case in the year 2000, when the Army was forced to adopt a new code of sexual conduct.

Now gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens are free to serve. 

They cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality or pressured to ‘come out’ at work. 

Personnel in same-sex partnerships are eligible for the same benefits to those who are married. 

Transgender applicants to the Army are recognised by their affirmed gender only if they have transitioned.  

There is now a dedicated LGBT+ champion to represent the community within the forces.  

The medal will be returned to him at a ceremony later today.  

At the 1993 hearing he was cleared of accusations that he had had been in bed with another sailor. 

He has previously told the BBC that he was forced to live a ‘double life’ while he was in the Navy, and was careful not to associate with other sailors whom he knew were gay.

He said: ‘I was watching every day what I was saying, what I was doing.

‘After the court martial was completed, a guy came in with a pair of scissors and said ‘Sorry, mate, I need your medal’, and just cut the medal off me.’

He added: ‘The Navy wasn’t just my job, it was my life. 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 was made to feel like I was disgusting and in the end I was hounded out on some trumped up charges, and told that because I was attracted to men, my 18 years of service counted for nothing. It was heart-breaking. It took me years to recover.

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

Emma Norton, head of legal casework for the human rights group Liberty 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 the medal will be returned to Mr Ousalice in person.

It is understood that the MoD is putting in place a scheme to return other medals to veterans who were stripped of them in similar circumstances.

  • Are you a veteran who had a medal confiscated on the grounds of sexuality? Email [email protected] or call 0203 615 1637 

The MoD said the medal (pictured with him right) will be returned to Mr Ousalice in person

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