|Joe Ousalice (right) receives medal from Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, later Chief of Defence Staff.|
This is a straight lift of a Telegraph article by Dominic Nicholls. 'Military veterans stripped of medals and discharged from the armed forces for their sexuality could have their honours returned as a bisexual Falklands sailor launches legal bid' appeared 8 May 2019, at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/05/08/military-veteran-stripped-medals-discharged-sexuality-could/.
You can see more pictures are there. I've added sub-headings here for readability.
'Military veterans stripped of medals and discharged from the armed forces for their sexuality could have their honours returned as a bisexual Falklands sailor launches legal bid. Joe Ousalice, 68, served for nearly 18 years in the Royal Navy but was discharged in 1993 prior to the lifting of the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces.
The Falklands veteran is taking action against the Ministry of Defence to have his Long Service and Good Conduct (LS&GC) medal returned after it was cut off his uniform following a Court Martial.
Northern Ireland and Middle East dutiesAn MoD spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment as legal proceedings are ongoing, but added, “we are currently looking at how personnel discharged from service because of their sexuality, or now abolished sexual offences, can have their medals returned.”
Mr Ousalice, a former radio operator, served in the Falklands War in which he lost two comrades, did six tours of duty in Northern Ireland and was also posted to conflict zones in the Middle East.
"I loved life in the navy, because of the comradeship," he told the BBC. "It was my life."
His work was praised by his seniors and he was awarded the LS&GC medal in 1991. Royal Navy regulations stipulate that LS&GC recipients must have served a minimum of 15 years continuous good conduct. It can be removed for later poor conduct.
Double life necessaryHowever, Mr Ousalice said he knew when he joined up that he would have to hide the fact that he was bisexual.
"It was a double life I was living,” he said. “I was watching every day what I was saying, what I was doing."
He says that when ashore he never visited gay pubs and on board ship he didn't associate with sailors who he knew were gay.
"I knew if I did I would have the SIB (Special Investigation Branch) on my back doing covert operations, shadowing me with cameras, taking photographs of what I was getting up to."
Medal cut off uniformCleared at Court Martial of assaulting another sailor in the early 1990s, he was found guilty of being in bed with the other man - something he has always denied - and was dismissed on the grounds that his conduct was prejudicial to good order and naval discipline.
An officer wrote: "He may attempt to corrupt others in the future", adding that "the needs of the service must come first".
Although not official policy at the time, but not unheard of, Mr Ousalice had his LS&GC medal cut off his uniform following the verdict and hopes that the lifting of the ban on LGBT people in the armed forces in 2000 would help him to have his medal returned.
How many more?The Telegraph understands that the MoD does not know how many individuals may be in the same situation as Mr Ousalice as it does not keep records of such matters, each one dealt with on a case-by- case basis by the respective service.
Amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill for England and Wales in 2017 allowed thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of now abolished sexual offences to be posthumously pardoned.
The new ruling became widely known as the Turing Law, after Alan Turing, the World War II codebreaker and computing pioneer, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952. Turing received a royal pardon (posthumously) in 2013.
The Turing Law could see military veterans who were previously denied medals have them awarded. The Telegraph understands that no medals have been returned yet or awarded in the wake of the government’s implementation of the Turing Law and that work is still ongoing in the MoD.
Any military veteran is able to apply to the MoD Medals Office, the department based at Imjin Barracks in Gloucester responsible for issuing medals to currently serving members of the armed forces, veterans and MOD employees.
Mod Medal Office, Innsworth, Building 250 Raf Innsworth.27 Nov 2018
Address: Building 250 Raf Innsworth
Next stepsThe Medals Office says that individuals should only wear official decorations, medals or emblems to which they are entitled and which have been approved for acceptance and wear. Unofficial medals should not be worn with official orders, decorations and other medals.
It is common practice for the next of kin of a deceased service person to wear their relative’s decorations and medals as a mark of remembrance. It is custom to wear such medals on the right breast in civilian dress only.
The MoD says official approval is not required to wear a relative’s medals, although current serving personnel should not wear relative’s medals or unofficial medals whilst in uniform.
The Telegraph understands that Liberty is setting up a helpline to help other LGBT veterans stripped of their medals to come forward.
See Feb 1919 article about Liberty's general support for service personnel. https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/news/press-releases-and-statements/liberty-launches-helpline-troops-new-report-highlights-failings
At that point the helpline number was 020 3102 9313. It was open 10 am to 4pm Mon to Fri. Sorry I can't confirm if this is still the correct number. I couldn't get any reply from the Press Office.
Readers may like to also see an article I wrote about the hidden queer history aboard the ships going to and from the Falklands Conflict, in Polari Magazine, 31.5.2012: