Lincoln campaigner says Government review into treatment of LGBT veterans is long overdue

A woman from Lincoln who became the first transgender officer to serve openly in the UK Armed Forces has said a government review into the treatment of LGBT veterans is long overdue.

It comes as the Government has announced its Veterans Strategy Action Plan, part of which will be an independent review to investigate the impacts of the ban on LGBT+ Veterans. 

Caroline Paige co-runs the charity Fighting With Pride, and has said whilst she welcomes a review, she hopes it will go far enough in addressing the 'huge injustices that many veterans faced'.

Caroline Paige served in the Royal Air Force for 35 years as a navigator on jets and a battlefield helicopter.

Prior to the ban being lifted in 2000, Armed Forces personnel who were thought to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender were arrested, searched and questioned by the Special Investigation Branch of the Military Police.

At Court Martial, service medals were ripped from their uniforms. Many served months inprison, for the military criminal offence of being part of the LGBT community.

The organisation Fighting with Pride hopes the review will lead to compensation and investment in support for LGBT veterans who lost their livelihoods and suffered immeasurably.

Caroline Paige said: "I was lucky, I served in difficult times when I had to hide who I was and carried all of that risk of discovery, but I got my career. But we are representing people who didn't have that luck.""You're alone, you're very much a lone. And you think it's you, so you have to hide that. It's a survival game really. You're not being able to enjoy your life fully and openly as you'd want to and so that puts pressure on you, and then you're also worried about being outed, or caught, or discovered and losing everything."

 Leo Docherty, MP Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: "I think the first step is for us to have a much better granular understanding of the facts of the matter and empower an independent reviewer to really engage and then give some recommendations to government."

"And I can't preempt those recommendations, and I can't preempt what we as a government will do but I can guarantee that we will listen and accept those recommendations with compassion and humility."