Falklands War veteran ‘discharged from Royal Navy for being bisexual’ to have medal returned

Joe Ousalice was ‘treated in a way that would not be acceptable today’, MoD admits

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 10 December 2019 11:44
Falklands veteran forced out of Navy over sexuality to sue Ministry of Defence

A Falklands veteran who claimed he was forced out of the Royal Navy over his sexuality is to have a medal returned to him.

Joe Ousalice said he had a medal for good conduct and long service confiscated when he was discharged after revealing his bisexuality at a court martial in 1993.

Senior officers said they feared he might “corrupt” fellow sailors.

He was “treated in a way that would not be acceptable today”, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson admitted, and the medal will be returned.

The spokesperson added: “We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.”

Gay people were not allowed to serve in the military until a rule change in 2000.

Mr Ousalice, who was a member of the senior service for 18 years, is a former radio operator who served in the Falklands War and the Middle East, as well as in six tours of Northern Ireland.

He has previously claimed that he was forced to live a “double life” while serving, and had to be careful not to associate with other sailors he knew were gay.

“I was watching every day what I was saying, what I was doing,” he said.

“After the court martial was completed, a guy came in with a pair of scissors and said ‘Sorry, mate, I need your medal’, and just cut the medal off me.”

At the 1993 hearing he was cleared of an accusation of sexual assault, but was held to have been in bed with another sailor – and found guilty of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.

The MoD said the medal would be returned to Mr Ousalice in person.

It is understood that the MoD is putting in place a scheme to return other medals to veterans who were stripped of them in similar circumstances.​

In an earlier interview, Mr Ousalice said: “As far as I know, it’s never as bad as it once was but nevertheless it still goes on. My message to the Navy is to stop being so bigoted and grow up.

“To the people it happened to, I would say go ahead and don’t be ashamed of it – fight your case. I’m not the only one who served and lost his medals, there are hundreds of others.”

The Independent has asked the MoD how its medal-return scheme is being arranged, and how many people circumstances like Mr Ousalice’s are though to have been affected.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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