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Falklands veteran 'forced out' over sexuality will have medals returned
10 December 2019, 12:05
A military veteran who said he was forced out of the Royal Navy after revealing his sexuality is set to have his medals returned to him by the Ministry of Defence, who admitted the treatment of LGBT veterans was "unacceptable".
Joe Ousalice, 68, said his medal for long service and good conduct was taken from him when he was discharged from the navy after revealing his bisexuality in 1993.
He added that the medal was only returned to him after he took the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to court in order to secure it.
Mr Ousalice had an 18-year naval career prior to his dismissal, and served in the Falklands War, Middle East and did six tours of Northern Ireland.
A Military of Defence spokesman apologised to Mr Ousalice, and said he was "treated in a way that would not be acceptable today".
He added: "We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved."
Military policy only changed in 2000 to allow gay people to serve.
Mr Ousalice said he was "made to feel like he was disgusting" when his sexuality became known.
"I should have always been judged on the basis of my exceptional service and not my sexuality," he said.
"History has shown us that a person's sexuality has no bearing on how they perform in times of conflict.
"So many LGBT people were forced out of their wonderful careers and the consequences were devastating.
"It has taken me 27 years to resolve this and I had to take the MoD to court to get here.
"But I would like to acknowledge the apology finally offered to me today and urge the MoD to continue to do all it can to address the continuing and serious effects of its discrimination on LGBT veterans."
He has previously said that he felt he had to live a "double life" in the military and had to be careful not to associate with other sailors whom he knew were gay.
Social media users were pleased with the news.
As a former naval officer am delighted MOD has agreed to return Joe Ousalice’s Long Service Medal taken in 1993 because he was gay. Whatever the rules at the time he served 18 years including service in Falklands & this is not diminished by his sexuality @RoyalNavy @stonewalluk— David Pond (@DavidPondGBWR) December 10, 2019
"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."
He was also cleared in 1993 after accusations emerged that he had been in bed with another sailor.
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, although it is not yet known how many could be affected.