Leeds academic welcomes MOD agreement to amend LGBT Veterans’ records


A move by the Ministry of Defence to amend the records of LGBT service personnel unfairly discharged prior to 1967 has been welcomed by the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Professor Paul Johnson OBE worked with the Labour peer Lord Cashman and the Conservative peer Lord Lexden, to extend restorative measures to right historical wrongs for LGBT veterans and their families. These included updating the records of those discharged before 1967 because of their sexuality or gender identity. 

We now urge them to make the financial compensations that they have recognised are needed but have yet to meaningfully action.

Professor Paul Johnson, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences

The proposal to extend restorative measures to LGBT personnel discharged prior to 1967 arose in the context of recommendations made by the recent LGBT Veterans Independent Review.  

Professor Johnson, whose expertise lies in the relationship between law, human rights and sexual orientation, said:  “The Government argued, in essence, that they couldn’t extend restorative measures prior to 1967 as discharges of LGBT service personnel before that date were in line with the civilian law, when male homosexual acts were a criminal offence. 

“I understand why that argument would be put forward, but we pointed out to the Government that they have previously extended posthumous pardons to people, convicted of repealed homosexual offences, going all the way back to the sixteenth century

In a letter to Lord Cashman addressing the Campaigner’s concerns, the Minister for People and Families at the MOD, Dr Andrew Murrison MP wrote: “I have given further consideration to the issue of those who suffered prior to 1967 and have concluded that it is right that we extend some restorative measures to them.”  

The restorative measures to be extended are: 

  • The qualification of administrative discharges based solely on sexuality/gender identity;  

  • The restoration of rank where there was demotion/disrating based on sexuality/gender identity; 

  • Publication of former Officer’s Service details in The Gazette (as an alternative to reinstating Officer’s to Service Retired Lists which are no longer published); and 

  • Replacement discharge papers (Certificate of Service). 

The Government formerly accepted measures to amend records for service people between 1967 and 2000 – when the official ban on LGBT people serving in the Armed Forces was lifted but the new measures will allow surviving veterans or their families to amend records prior to this, bringing comfort to service people or the families of those discharged before 1967. 

Independent Review 

The result of this campaign was an extension of restitutive measures that were recommended to the Government in a thorough review published last year conducted by Judge Lord Etherton.  

Lord Etherton’s report laid out 49 recommendations in total, including financial compensation, a milestone which has yet to be implemented.  

The trio of campaigners, who have long worked together on LGBT issues, had previously written to the Yorkshire Post to express their concerns about the Government’s “unacceptable delays to compensation” for, now ailing, LGBT veterans – many of whom are in advanced age and suffering terminal diseases.  

They argued that these service people may not live long enough to see themselves compensated for the suffering that they have endured.  

On this point, Professor Johnson added: “While we welcome the Government's recent action to extend some restorative measures to LGBT Veterans prior to 1967, we now urge them to make the financial compensations that they have recognised are needed but have yet to meaningfully action."  

Pride at Leeds 

Professor Johnson’s successful campaign to right historical wrongs for LGBT veterans and their families demonstrates the powerful role that evidence-based research plays in influencing public policy. This model lies at the heart of the Pride Global Scholarships: a flagship initiative for which the University is seeking philanthropic support. 

Spearheaded by Professor Johnson, this ambitious initiative will support postgraduate researchers to undertake rigorous research to better understand and address challenges faced by LGBT people around the world. As well as questions of legality, LGBT people face issues of discrimination and violence – from name-calling and harassment to being denied employment or healthcare. With donor support, the University could address these critical issues – a commitment which extends far beyond campus, to reach LGBT people across the UK and around the world. 

Further information 

For media enquiries please contact Morgan Buswell in the University of Leeds press office via m.buswell@leeds.ac.uk 

If you would like any more information about Leeds’ ambitions to become a world leader in LGBT research or the potential impact your philanthropic support could have, please contact Rebecca Morgan, Senior Development Manager: r.k.morgan@leeds.ac.uk

Read more about the Pride Global Scholarships in the latest Leeds magazine