The Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom announced, on this 16th of February, that it will return the decorations to military personnel dismissed for being homosexuals, a practice that occurred until the year 2000. It is estimated that about 250 military personnel were expelled a year and lost their medals simply because they were gay.
The reparation is valid both for those who were convicted of “homosexual behavior”, respecting UK military legislation at the time, and for those who were simply dismissed when sexual orientation “surfaced” without condemnation.
In Tuesday’s statement, the Ministry of Defense said that dismissals and convictions are “historical errors” and is looking at ways to “examine and understand the broad impact of practices prior to the year 2000”.
The LGBT rights advocacy NGO Stonewall said that such a decision “will help a lot to correct the mistakes of the past”, and attributes the decision 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.
Ousalice, who is bisexual, served in the Malvinas War in Northern Ireland and in conflicts in the Middle East, receiving an award in 1991 for Long Service and Good Conduct. Only the following year he was arrested for “serious indecency”. In 2019, when he started his case against the Ministry of Defense, he told the BBC: “A guy came with scissors and said ‘sorry, buddy, I need your medal’ and just cut the medal off me”.
After the conviction, the military reports several losses in his life, including financial losses caused by reduced retirement, difficulties in finding a new job, in addition to dealing with loneliness. In 2020, he won in court and recovered the medal and also had a retraction from the British government, which promised to review the situation in all cases.
With information from Folha de São Paulo