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UK Government accepts all recommendations of review into LGBT veteran mistreatment

13 Dec 2023 4 minute read
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The UK Government is accepting the “intent” behind all recommendations of a review into the historical mistreatment of LGBT people in the military.

Among the 49 recommendations made by Lord Etherton were that veterans who suffered mistreatment as a result of their sexuality should be given an “appropriate financial award”.

Defence minister Andrew Murrison told MPs that financial awards will be made in future, and said other restorative measures are now being carried out.

Former senior judge Lord Etherton’s independent inquiry looked at the experience of LGBT veterans who served in the armed forces between 1967 and 2000.

Some suffered abusive investigations, with others subjected to “conversion therapy, peremptory discharges, and appalling consequences in terms of mental health and wellbeing, homelessness, employment, personal relationships and financial hardship”, according to the report.

Apology

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologised for the historical mistreatment in the summer, and on Wednesday Dr Murrison confirmed the Government’s next steps following the review.

“I can announce we are accepting the intent behind all 49 of Lord Etherton’s recommendations,” he said.

He added: “In fact to date we have already implemented almost half of them.

“We have established a legacy website to host the review, the Government’s response and information collected by the review, including testimonies.”

The minister said veterans can now begin to make applications for “restorative measures”, but added that plans for financial awards will be finalised in the new year.

“We are throwing open the front door to our LGBT veterans,” he said. “Today we ask them to apply or register an interest for restorative measures that are relevant to them, individual apology letters, return of berets and cap badges, amendments to veterans’ service history, the addition of more personal testimony to evidence collected by the review.

“Testimony which will eventually become part of the historic record of the national archive, signalling that our LGBT veterans will never be forgotten, signalling that 33 years of national shame will never be expunged, affirming and celebrating their part in our country’s history.”

Award

He added: “Importantly, the form will also allow veterans to indicate their interest in applying for a financial award when eligibility is confirmed and that scheme goes live.”

Dr Murrison later sought to manage the expectations of MPs concerned about the proposed £50 million cap on the financial awards scheme, telling them the Government cannot “write a blank cheque” to compensate affected veterans.

“It is just not possible to do that. Lord Etherton came up with £50 million. It is a significant amount of money,” he added.

Labour, meanwhile, pressed the minister to ensure veterans are able to claim their accrued pensions if they were discharged for being gay or lesbian.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “What action is he taking to ensure pensions are fully restored to those who are misinformed that pension rights have been abolished? What action is he taking to guarantee that those whose evidence of investigations was destroyed in 2010 so they don’t lose out?”

He added: “We cannot change the past but we can act to make amends, we can honour the service of our LGBT veterans, we can take pride in the inspiration they provide to future generations.”

Dr Murrison replied: “Accrued pension rights remain; however, some people were misled when they left the armed forces and I would strongly recommend that they refer to the guidance available on gov.uk.”

But he was not able to offer hope of rights to pensions which would have been accrued had dismissed veterans remained in service for longer.

“There is no way of restoring those pensions,” he said. “I hope he will understand that, and it will be incredibly difficult to do that.

“So I am not going to give him any encouragement that that will form any part of our deliberations in relation to the financial award.”


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