Fighting With Pride: impact of the ‘gay ban’ in the military is revealed in new report, sparking fresh calls for apology and compensation

New report out today shines a light on the injustices faced by those who were subject to ‘gay ban’ in the military which existed until 2000. Craig Jones and Fighting with Pride from our Spokesperson Network are calling for justice after the reveal of the lifelong impact and trauma of the ban is revealed.

A new report today (Thursday 1st June) shines a light on the lifelong impact of the ‘gay ban’ in the Armed Forces. Craig Jones, Executive Chair of Fighting with Pride, from the Sounddelivery Media Spokesperson Network is calling for justice. The study carried out by Northumbria University was carried out on behalf of specialist LGBT+ military charity Fighting with Pride (FWP) and has found that thousands of ex-service people are paying the price of the policy both mentally and economically. The ban existed until 2000.

“Those found to be gay were dismissed after harrowing investigations by the Military Police, some were even subjected to forced ‘treatments’ in military hospitals.”

86% of LGBT+ veterans felt dismissal for sexual orientation or gender identity from the Armed Forces affected their mental health

74% of those dismissed said their finances have been affected. 

Fighting with Pride estimates that between 2000 and 5000 have felt a lifelong impact as a consequence of the ‘gay ban’ policy.

The first academic study of its kind, involved interviews and surveys with over 100 veterans with first-hand experience of the ban- many were dismissed after traumatic military police investigations and some endured highly invasive medical examinations. The report has revealed ongoing poverty; homelessness; poor mental and physical health. An underlying sense of stigma and shame has contributed to loneliness and isolation. 

Craig Jones MBE, former Royal Navy officer, Executive Chair and Caroline Paige, former RAF officer, Chief Executive of Fighting With Pride said: The visceral hurt caused by the illegal and cruel ban is heartbreaking – our report has been two years in the making and shows that veterans continue to live with the devastating impact to this day, over 25 years later. It’s wholly unacceptable – warm words aren’t enough. 

Today’s new study ahead of the government’s review publication has triggered renewed calls for a remedy to the harm caused by the ban. This means:

  • An apology on behalf of the Nation by the Prime Minister
  • Wiping criminal records for those criminalised for sexual orientation and other measures to remove the shame experienced by LGBT+ veterans and celebrate their service
  • Compensation for serious lifelong harm to LGBT+ veterans in the region of £100,000 per person. This is in line with the Windrush and Tainted Blood schemes
  • Payment for loss of pensions is complex and must be assessed and redressed fairly to reflect individual circumstances
  • Develop the specialist mental health services to address the trauma experienced by LGBT+ Veterans. 

“Support and tailored mental health support is urgently needed to restore better health and wellbeing after all the lost years.”

This new Northumbria University research is published in the lead up to publication of the government- commissioned LGBT Veterans’ Independent Review report led by senior judge Lord Etherton. There are fears the Etherton Review could be stalled to avoid parliamentary and public scrutiny.   

Other key findings of the two year academic study include:

  • 82% of respondents were subjected to intrusive investigations. 72% felt ‘vilified’, ‘treated like a criminal’
  • 65% of LGBT+ veterans surveyed said it affected their employment and careers
  • 56 % said it had impacted having a place to live
  • 84.4% of survey respondents reported being lonely

Craig and Caroline said: “Veterans have been left without a home or job, many robbed of family by being ‘outed’. In the worst cases, those found to be gay were dismissed after harrowing investigations by the Military Police, some were even subjected to forced ‘treatments’ in military hospitals. 

“Support and tailored mental health support is urgently needed to restore better health and wellbeing after all the lost years. It’s essential the Independent Review is published without delay. It offers a unique opportunity to make right, in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. Proper compensation is a vital part of the remedy for lives and livelihoods lost when all people were doing was serving their country.” 

For the first time, ‘forced treatment’ in military hospitals has emerged as one of the worst excesses.  The dismissal process routinely involved interrogations by  the Special Investigations Branch (SIB) of the military police. Men in particular talked of highly invasive medical examinations. 

FWP estimates that between 2000 and 5000 have felt a lifelong impact as a consequence of the ‘gay ban’ policy. Whilst homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 in wider society, in the Armed Forces people who were ‘found out’ or identified as gay faced dismissal; loss of pension; criminalisation; imprisonment and intrusive investigations. 

Craig Jones, Executive Chair of Fighting with Pride, is from the Sounddelivery Media Spokesperson Network

If you want more information on the work of Fighting with Pride do get in touch

About Craig Jones

Craig Jones is the Executive Chair of Fighting with Pride of the military LGBT+ charity Fighting With Pride and the principle leader of the Armed Forces LGBT+ community in the difficult years after the ‘ban’ was lifted. 

In a busy 20 year operational career in the Royal Navy, Craig was a helicopter fast rope boarding officer during operations to clear the Shatt Al Arab following the first Gulf War and he led border patrols in Northern Ireland in the challenging year prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.  Later he was the deputy navigator of the Fleet flagship HMS INVINCIBLE during Operation BOLTON.

On the day of the lifting of the ‘gay ban’ in 2000, Craig came out and led challenging work to restore the Armed Forces Covenant for the serving LGBT+ community. Craig was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 for services to Equality and Human Rights in the Armed Forces.  Craig retired from the Armed Forces in 2008.

Craig has previously been a Board Member of the charity ‘Employers Forum on Disability’, a special advisor to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a Member of OFCOMs Broadcasting Equality Regulator. 

About Fighting With Pride (FWP)

Founded in 2020, twenty years after the lifting of the ‘gay ban’, FWP is a ‘lived experience’ LGBT+ charity, supporting veterans, serving personnel and families seeking help and a resource for those who seek to help them.

In the years ahead FWP aims to bring those removed or forced from service back into the military family.

FWP works with organisations supporting the Armed Forces Community to build capacity for LGBT+ Veterans to recognise their service and help resolve the challenges they face in their lives beyond military service.

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