MoD may face pay-out to sacked homosexuals

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THE GOVERMENT may face a repeat of the costly compensation awards recently given to dismissed pregnant servicewomen, after it was disclosed last night that the Ministry of Defence has sacked more than 200 homosexual personnel, many of high ranks, since 1990, writes James Cusick.

The MoD could be forced to justify its current anti-homosexual staff policy before the European courts if the dismissals are challenged.

The sackings are believed to be under examination by leading lawyers. If brought to court, the European Convention of Human Rights would be the legal framework of the cases.

The Ministry of Defence last night would not confirm or deny figures published in The Guardian which stated that 259 service personnel were dismissed. The figures had been disclosed to the Labour MP, Barbara Roche, by the defence minister, Lord Henley.

Although the European Court of Justice, under the 1976 Equal Treatment directive guarantees citizens that there should be no discrimination on sexual grounds, an MoD spokesman said: 'We nevertheless feel that homosexuality is incompatible with service life.'

He said that the published figures and the rank claims would be examined later today.

The high ranks of those dismissed - majors, captains, a squadron leader, flight lieutenants and lieutenant commanders - and the cost of their training and replacing such personnel, is likely to lead to complaints that the anti- homosexual policy is uneconomic given the economies being forced on all services.

If the MoD were found to be ignoring European laws, as happened with the dismissed pregnant servicewomen, six figure sums compensating for the loss of a career could again be the norm.