Gay veteran says he has to go 'back to his bully' to reclaim his medals

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

The last serviceman who was jailed for being gay in the RAF has said he feels like he has to go "back to my bully" to ask for his medals back after the military announced LGBT veterans could reclaim their confiscated awards.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it wanted to address a “historical wrong” after announcing any service person who had had their medals taken from them due to their sexuality could reclaim them.

David Bonney served in the first Gulf War but his military career came to an end in 1993 after he became the last British serviceman to be sent to prison for being gay.

He told ITV News: "I have to go to my bully, which is the RAF, and ask them to forgive me and give me my medals back."

Mr Bonney said the announcement around medals was a good change but that it wouldn't repair the damage done by his court-martial.

Gay people were not allowed to serve in the military until a rule change in 2000.

Mr Bonney said ITV News: "It was used to justify any form of bullying any form of humiliation if they remotely suspected you of that ilk, it was kind of state-sponsored discrimination and homophobia that went on."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the news from the MoD, tweeting: "Those who serve in our Armed Forces deserve every recognition for their service.

"It was a very great injustice that this was denied to some members simply because of their sexuality. I hugely welcome the fact we can now address this historic wrong."

  • Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice has been at the forefront of the campaign

A statement on the GOV.UK website says: “Prior to 2000, a number of armed forces personnel were discharged from service on the basis of their sexuality.

“Some received convictions under specified legislation for homosexual behaviour that has now been de-criminalised, while others were discharged solely on the basis of their sexuality, without any conviction.

“In the course of their discharge, some personnel either forfeited medals directly, or were prevented from continuing to serve and thus denied the ability to regain medals that might previously have been forfeited for unrelated reasons.

“The MoD is committed to addressing this historical wrong and is introducing a policy which enables individuals to apply to have their medals restored.”

Veteran Joe Ousalice (right) being given his medal for long service and good conduct by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Under the scheme, affected former personnel can apply to have their case reviewed by the defence council, with successful applicants receiving a new medal from the MoD’s Medal Office.

Relatives of affected ex-military members who have since died are also able to apply for a review.

The move comes after Falklands veteran Joe Ousalice successfully took the MoD to court to have his medal returned after claiming he was forced to leave the Royal Navy because of his sexuality.

Joe Ousalice had six six tours of duty Credit: Joe Ousalice/PA

The 70-year-old from Southampton, Hampshire, had his medal for long service and good conduct confiscated when he was discharged after revealing his bisexuality before a court martial in 1993.

Mr Ousalice, who had an 18-year naval career, is a former radio operator who served in the Falklands War and the Middle East, as well as six tours of Northern Ireland.