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  1. ITV Report

Veteran forced out of Royal Navy 'due to sexuality' sues MoD for return of medals

Joe Ousalice is suing the Navy to have his medal returned. Credit: Liberty/PA

A Falklands veteran who says he was forced out of the Royal Navy because of his sexuality is planning to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to have his medals returned to him.

Joe Ousalice was in the Navy for 18 years and earnt a Long Service and Good Conduct medal in 1991, as well as three Good Conduct badges.

However, he 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.

Joe Ousalice served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Credit: Liberty/PA

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.

Until 2000, LGBTQ people were not allowed to serve in the military.

The judgment brought an end to his 18-year naval career, during which he served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

Mr Ousalice, who is bisexual, said that during his time in the Navy he lived a ''double life'' and was careful not to associate with other sailors he knew were gay for fear of being outed and the repercussions.

The Navy confiscated his medal and three Good Conduct badges at the time of his dismissal. Credit: Liberty/PA

Mr Ousalice’s lawyers, from human rights organisation Liberty, argue that he was discharged “entirely because of his sexuality”.

The Navy confiscated his medal and three Good Conduct badges at the time of his dismissal.

“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," Mr Ousalice recalled in an interview with the BBC.

“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.”

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The 68-year-old is now taking the MoD to court to have the medals returned.

Liberty also wants other medals that were confiscated from military personnel because of their sexuality to be returned to them.

Afghanistan Campaign medals sit ready to be presented to Naval Officers by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, London. Credit: PA

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.