Rishi Sunak has apologized for the historical treatment of LGBT personnel who were discharged or expelled from the military due to their sexual orientation.
The Prime Minister described the prohibition as an "appalling failure" of the British government. It was illegal to be homosexual in the British military until the year 2000, affecting thousands of veterans.
A report on their treatment recommended that they receive monetary compensation and that the prime minister issue a public apology. "Many have endured the most horrific sexual abuse and violence, homophobic bullying and harassment, all while valiantly serving their country," the prime minister told members of parliament.
The LGBT Veterans Independent Review, which began last year and was led by Britain's first openly homosexual judge, Lord Etherton, examined the experiences of 1,145 veterans from 1967 to 2000. In 1967, homosexuality was decriminalized in the United Kingdom, but it remained prohibited in the armed forces. According to the report, the Ministry of Defense stated at the time that operational effectiveness and efficiency justified the policy. However, the report stated that there had been a "incomprehensible policy of homophobic bigotry" within the armed forces.
The commission heard shocking accounts of homophobia, bullying, extortion, sexual assaults, "disgraceful" medical exams, and conversion therapy. It provides the government with 49 recommendations, including:
A total of £50 million will be allocated as "appropriate financial compensation" to affected veterans. Restoration of medals that were required to be returned upon dismissal or discharge Clarification of pension entitlements. The government promised a comprehensive response following the summer recess. Some of the afflicted veterans witnessed the Prime Minister's public apology.
Emma Riley, 51, was a radio operator in the Royal Navy for three years before she was detained and discharged in the early 1990s for being a lesbian after disclosing her sexual orientation to a colleague. She told sources that she welcomed the report and anticipated that it would be implemented "swiftly."
Veterans have previously told sources that the ban destroyed their livelihoods.
Carol Morgan, who was fired in 1978 after disclosing her sexual orientation to her supervisors, concealed her orientation for the next 30 years and claimed she had been "robbed" of her life.
According to the report, many were subjected to invasive medical examinations, intrusive police investigations, and, in some cases, sent to prison as recently as 1996 due to their sexual orientation. Many continue to have a criminal record. It also describes how some veterans suffered a total loss of income, while others were declared ineligible to receive a pension due to their discharge.
The report comes more than two decades after the European Court of Human Rights overturned a prohibition on gay service members in response to a case brought by four service members who were discharged for being homosexual.
Following the release of the report, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace expressed "deep regret" on behalf of the government and the armed forces. Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer was also pleased with the contrition, describing it as a watershed moment for the LGBT community.