Campaigners are demanding swift action from the UK government to disclose the findings of a review focusing on the treatment of LGBTQ+ veterans who were forced out of their military positions due to their sexual orientation.
Before 2000, being gay in the British military was considered illegal, affecting an estimated 5,000 veterans. Despite some individuals providing evidence to the review initiated last year, concerns have arisen regarding the delay in publishing the report. The government has assured that it will duly consider the recommendations put forth.
A veteran who shared her experiences with BBC News emphasised the need for the government to issue an apology, asserting that the ban on gay officers had deprived them of fulfilling lives.
Carol Morgan, alongside other veterans, had anticipated an update on the review during a recent event at London’s Imperial War Museum. However, while speeches were delivered by Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer and the independent review’s chairman, Lord Etherton, no new information was revealed, and no specific timeline was provided for the report’s release. The lack of transparency left some attendees distressed and disappointed.
Caroline Paige, co-director of the military charity Fighting With Pride, highlighted the distressing nature of the experiences recounted by veterans while providing evidence for the review.
Paige expressed concerns that the absence of a publication date for the report could impede progress thus far. Veterans worry that the momentum gained from their efforts might dwindle without clearly indicating when the report will be made public.
In response to the mounting pressure, a UK government spokesperson confirmed that Lord Etherton had completed the independent review and submitted the report to the government, and added that the findings would be carefully examined before a comprehensive response will be issued in due course, in line with the review’s terms of reference.
The spokesperson also conveyed the government’s pride and gratitude for the service rendered by LGBTQ+ individuals.
Until the ban on homosexuality was lifted in 2000, gay military personnel faced invasive investigations and were often dismissed or compelled to leave the armed forces. Many of them still carry criminal records stemming from their convictions. The ban’s consequences continue to affect veterans today, with some experiencing a complete loss of income. Moreover, their dismissals rendered them ineligible to claim their pensions, exacerbating their financial hardship.