Falklands veteran discharged due to his sexuality to sue MoD for the return of his military honours

Joe Ousalice was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal back in 1991


Words: Steve Brown

A Falklands veteran who was forced out of the Royal Navy due to his sexuality is planning to sue for the return of his military honours.

Joe Ousalice, 68, was discharged from the Navy in 1993 after nearly 18 years’ service when there was a ban on LGBTQ people serving in the armed forces in the UK.

Not only did he serve during the Falklands War – where he lost two comrades – he also did six tours in Northern Ireland and was posted to conflict zones in the Middle East, the BBC reported.

The former radio operate was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal back in 1991 but during his time with the armed forces he was forced to hide the fact that he is bisexual.

He told the BBC: “I loved life in the navy, because of the comradeship. It was my life. It was a double life I was living.

“I was watching every day what I was saying, what I was doing.”

He knew the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) would have followed him with cameras and take photographs if he dared to live his true life and visit gay bars or associate with other sailors who about his sexuality.

The SIB nevertheless monitored his actions and he revealed he was regularly questioned by investigators.

But while ashore in 1992, he was arrested by civilian police and charged with gross indecency with another man.

Despite pleading not guilty, he was convicted and lost an appeal but his sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.

To make matters worse, he was accused by the navy of assaulting another sailor and despite being cleared of the assault charge, Ousalice was charged with being in bed with the other sailor and he was forced to disclose his sexuality.

He said: “After the court martial was completed a guy came in with a pair of scissors and said, 'Sorry mate, I need your medal' and just cut the medal off me.

"The fact that I had been to the Middle East, to the Falklands, to Northern Ireland six times means a lot to me and that medal is proof to me that I was good enough for all those years and yet somebody can just come and take it away from you."

The ban on LGBTQ people serving in the armed forces was lifted in 2000 but Ousalice – who was penniless after being discharged – was still unable to get back his medal.

Now human rights organisation, Liberty, is representing him and they plan to sue the Ministry of Defence and calling for the MoD to apologise.