Words: Steve Brown
A Falklands veteran who was forced out of the Royal Navy because of his sexuality will have his medals returned.
Joe Ousalice, 68, was discharged from the Navy in 1993 after nearly 18 years’ service when there was a ban on LGBTQ people serving in the armed forces in the UK.
Not only did he serve during the Falklands War – where he lost two comrades – he also did six tours in Northern Ireland and was posted to conflict zones in the Middle East, the BBC reported.
The former radio operate was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal back in 1991 but during his time with the armed forces he was forced to hide the fact that he is bisexual.
While ashore in 1992, he was arrested by civilian police and charged with gross indecency with another man.
Despite pleading not guilty, he was convicted and lost an appeal but his sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.
To make matters worse, he was accused by the navy of assaulting another sailor and despite being cleared of the assault charge, Ousalice was charged with being in bed with the other sailor and he was forced to disclose his sexuality.
His medals were stripped from him when he was discharged because his sexuality was believed to be ‘prejudicial to good order and naval discipline’.
Now the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have admitted its policy was ‘wrong, discriminatory and unjust’ and Ousalice is set to have his medals returned at a ceremony later, the BBC reported.
It’s believed that other veterans will have their medals returned in the future as well.
The MoD said Ousalice was "treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that we apologise".
It added: "We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved."
The ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces was lifted in 2000.