Falklands veteran 'forced out over sexuality' will get medal back

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media captionJoe Ousalice told the BBC in May he was left isolated by his sacking from the Navy

A Falklands veteran forced out of the Royal Navy over his sexuality will have a military honour returned.

Joe Ousalice, 68, served as a radio operator for 18 years but was discharged in 1993 because of a ban on LGBT people in the armed forces.

He said the Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s decision to reverse the removal of a good conduct honour, was a "step forward".

It is understood a scheme will be set up to return medals to other veterans.

The MoD admitted its policy had been "wrong, discriminatory and unjust".

Mr Ousalice, who lives in Southampton, was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and three Good Conduct badges.

He served on board MV Myrmidon, part of the task force dispatched to liberate the Falkland Islands after the Argentinean invasion in 1982.

His career also included six tours of duty in Northern Ireland and he was seconded to a Nato task force.

image copyrightJoe Ousalice
image captionJoe Ousalice (right) receiving a medal

But the medal was stripped from him when he was discharged because his bisexuality was believed to be "prejudicial to good order and naval discipline".

Mr Ousalice, who was living in Torpoint, Cornwall, when he was discharged, said he was left unemployed and penniless and had to scavenge for potatoes at a local farm to feed himself.

Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, he described his treatment by his superiors while in the armed forces as "abysmal".

"Every couple of years they would drag me in and make some story up in an attempt to get shot of me - they knew I was bisexual," he said.

"On one occasion they said I had been seen taking drugs in Portsmouth. I've never taken drugs but it shows you the level they'd get up to".

He said he still wanted an apology from "someone in authority" and for his medal to be returned to him by a rear-admiral - the same rank as originally awarded him the medal.

image copyrightJoe Ousalice
image captionMr Ousalice (highlighted) has not sought compensation and says he just wants his medals back

Mr Ousalice will be presented with his Long Service and Good Conduct medal at a ceremony at a later date.

He has been represented by human rights group Liberty, which had threatened court action if Mr Ousalice was refused the return of the medals.

Emma Norton, its head of legal casework and Mr Ousalice's lawyer, said the MoD policy has had a "devastating impact on a lot of lives".

"I think its relevant that January is the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces," she said.

"I speculate [there is] something unattractive about the MoD celebrating that while at the same time vigorously defending a perfecting reasonably claim brought by someone like Joe."

The MoD said Mr Ousalice was "treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that we apologise".

"We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved," it added.

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