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Army law allowed soldiers to be sacked for being gay

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Tom Culshaw
Written by Tom Culshaw

Army law which allowed soldiers to be FIRED for being gay finally thrown out

Existing rules state homosexuality is incompatible with military service

Legal ban which forced gay men out of the armed forces is set to finally be officially removed from armed forces legislation.

Shadow defence minister Toby Perkins welcomed the move.
The law that has prohibited gay men, lesbians and transgender personnel from ‘rightfully’ joining the forces, was put into force in 1994.

Existing rules state homosexuality is incompatible with military service and engaging in a homosexual act can constitute grounds for discharging a member of the armed forces.

The ban was written into law in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 yet has been disregarded since the European Court forced the British government to allow homosexuals to serve in 2000.

As such it has been ignored in practice since 2000, yet technically remains in force.

MPs have now agreed a new Armed Forces Bill, which legislates for the UK during peace time. The law cleared its final House of Commons hurdle yesterday.

The Government amendment to get rid of the sexuality discrimination laws was added to the Bill unopposed.

The Bill, which also deals with changes to armed forces pensions, will now proceed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

The Government amendment to get rid of the ‘sexuality discrimination’ laws was added to the Bill

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the existing rules were “inconsistent with the department’s current policies and the Government’s equality and discrimination policies more generally”.

Mr Lancaster said  it was government policy that homosexuality was “incompatible with service in the armed forces” and therefore people who “engaged in homosexual activity were administratively discharged”.

Since 2000, he said the rules “have had no practical effect and they are therefore redundant”.

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He added: “These provisions in no way reflect the position of today’s armed forces.

“We are proud in defence of the progress we have made since 2000 to remove policies that discriminated against homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel so that they can serve openly in the armed forces.”

“This amendment is a practical step which shows that this Government is serious about our commitment to equality in this area.”

He said: “Removing this from the statute book will be a welcome step forward so that the explicit refusal to discriminate against homosexual service men and women is expunged from the service book just as it has in practice been outlawed.

“It is very clear that this is an important step forward and it is one we welcome very strongly.”

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