Veteran sues MoD for return of medals after dismissal ‘for being gay’
A Falklands veteran who says he was forced to leave the Royal Navy because of his sexuality has announced plans to sue the Ministry of Defence to have his medals returned to him.
Joe Ousalice, 68, was court-martialled in 1993 and found guilty of being in bed with another sailor, which the service said was prejudicial to good order and naval discipline.
Mr Ousalice has always denied the charge, but said he was forced to reveal his bisexuality at the court martial and was discharged from the Navy because he might “corrupt” others.
The judgment brought an end to his 18-year naval career, during which he served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.
The Navy confiscated his medal and three Good Conduct badges at the time of his dismissal.
He is now taking the MoD to court to have them returned.
Mr Ousalice’s lawyers, from human rights organisation Liberty, argue that he was discharged “entirely because of his sexuality”.
The group wants other medals that were confiscated from military personnel because of their sexuality to be returned to them.
Gay people were not allowed to serve in the military until a rule change in 2000.
Mr Ousalice said he lived a “double life” while he was in the Navy, and was careful not to associate with other sailors whom he knew were gay.
“I was watching every day what I was saying, what I was doing,” he told the BBC.
“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.
“The fact that I had been to the Middle East, to the Falklands, to Northern Ireland six times means a lot to me and that medal is proof to me that I was good enough for all those years, and yet somebody can just come and take it from you.”
An MoD spokesman said it would be “inappropriate” to comment as legal proceedings are ongoing.
“We are currently looking at how personnel discharged from service because of their sexuality, or now abolished sexual offences, can have their medals returned,” he added.