Military Life: Armed forces win U-turn over gays in military
Monday 13 October 1997
Before the general election Labour made clear their opposition to the ban on gays serving in the armed forces. Now, ministers are believed to have decided to defend a legal action brought by four former service people sacked by the Ministry of Defence for being homosexual.
If true, and the claim was not denied yesterday, the decision will lead to accusations of a U-turn by politicians in the face of opposition by senior military personnel. Many officers still believe that having gays in the service would compromise "combat effectiveness".
The action before the European Court of Human Rights claims that the Government's ban on gays in the services breaches human rights conventions. One of the four litigants, former Royal Navy lieutenant commander Duncan Lustig-Prean, warned yesterday that opposition by ministers could cost million of pounds in compensation, and accused Labour of going back on assurances once in power.
The MoD yesterday denied that its lawyers had formally responded to the court. However, sources did not deny they would be opposing the case.
It was also pointed out that before any changes of policy ministers had maintained they would need to consult with the chiefs of staff to canvass their views - a process that has not yet begun.
The Government faces a second legal front on the same issue. In March a medical naval assistant, Terry Perkins, who was sacked for being gay, won the right to take his case to the European Court of Justice under the EU's equal treatment directive. A ruling is expected late next year.
If defeated on this issue the Government could be landed with a multi- million pound compensation bill for the thousands of gays dismissed from the service in recent years.
In a separate development, ministers have given the go ahead to all members of the military to send their views on the future of the armed forces in confidence to the MoD.
The Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, has extended the same invitation to all MoD civil servants, as part of the strategic defence review. "I am especially keen to hear more from those with the most direct interest in the review - members of the armed forces and civilian staff in the MoD," he said.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial first week: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters around the world describe hopes and dreams in touching photographs
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...