Former Manchester Mayor allowed to re-claim military medals confiscated because of his sexuality

A former Manchester Councillor, who was dismissed from the RAF for being gay, will be allowed to reclaim any confiscated medals he won during his service.

A new scheme launched by the Ministry of Defence, who have said they want to address a "historical wrong", is allowing former military members to reclaim medals stripped from them because of their sexuality.

Carl Austin-Behan OBE joined the RAF in 1991 when he was 19, but was dismissed in 1997 after coming out as gay.

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

He was commended in the Queen's Honours list of 1991 after saving a fellow pilot from a burning aircraft.

He served on Manchester City Council from 2011-2018 and was the city's first openly gay Lord Mayor in 2016-2017.

Mr Austin-Behan tweeted that the move was "welcomed" and that he hoped it would be the start of "a long-overdue support package for our #lgbt veterans who were discharged due to their sexuality".

The scheme came about after a former soldier took the MOD to court over medals he had had taken off him. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the news, he tweeted: "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."

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 being given his medal 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.