Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, has called for UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to make a statement to the House of Commons after this morning’s shocking revelation that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) deleted military police records of service personnel who were dismissed from the armed forces for being gay.
Until 2000 it was illegal to be gay in the British military – a stipulation that is believed to have affected approximately 5,000 people in the armed forces. Before then gay, transgender and bisexual people in the military were sent to prison if their sexuality or gender identity was discovered by those ranked above them.
After asking the MoD for documents about investigations into their sexuality by the military police, veterans were stunned to discover that these files were erased by the MoD in 2010. This could impact these LGBT veterans’ efforts to reclaim lost pensions or compensation from the Government.
Monaghan, who has long advocated on behalf of the LGBT veteran community in Westminster, submitted a request for an Urgent Question in the House of Commons this morning. In it, she called on the Defence Secretary to make an urgent statement to the House detailing what knowledge he had of records being destroyed and how this could possibly have been authorised by the MoD.
Notably, Monaghan has repeatedly called for justice for LGBT veterans in the House of Commons Chamber. In March, she highlighted the discrimination, unfair dismissal, and in some cases incarceration, many members of the armed forces faced because of their sexual identity, and urged the Government to provide compensation to those veterans. Moreover, last year, she criticised the Government for failing to take account of LGBT veterans and their experiences in the Armed Forces Bill, and sought to introduce an amendment to the Bill to remedy this.
Commenting on the current situation, Monaghan said:
“This admission from the Ministry of Defence that it actively destroyed records of LGBT armed forces personnel is deeply concerning. It raises serious questions about the integrity of the Department and serves to undermine LGBT veterans’ pursuit of transparency and justice.
“I have long pressed this Government to thoroughly investigate the historic cases whereby members of the armed forces were dismissed from service due to their sexuality, and urged them to provide those individuals with compensation. Though I welcome the Government’s recent decision to launch an Independent Review into the experiences of LGBT veterans, today’s revelation casts a dark shadow over this positive progress.
“Not only do these veterans have to live with highly distressing memories of discrimination they endured simply because of their sexual orientation, but now their trauma is being compounded by the fact that they cannot even access evidence of this mistreatment. A route to justice and accountability has effectively been shut down.
“It is important to note that the ban on members of the LGBT community entering the armed forces was only lifted in 2000. For many, recollections of their experience in – and exclusion from – the military are still raw and painful, and many understandably have a lack of trust in the armed forces and Ministry of Defence. Today’s news will unfortunately do little to build up that trust.
“Given the gravity of the MoD’s admission, I urge the Defence Secretary to make a statement in Parliament outlining the Department’s justification for this mass data erasure and whether he had any knowledge of this. LGTB veterans and their families are undoubtedly owed an explanation.”
Notes for editors:
. BBC News article on MoD’s mass deletion of LGBT veterans’ files: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63400761
. Armed Forces Bill (Amendment Paper): See page 14: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-02/0002/amend/armed_daily_cwh_0623.pdf
. Carol Monaghan contribution in Parliament in debate on War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme Payments: See column 669: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-03-28/debates/A0D1F16F-CEE3-412E-8860-76CD24E8460F/WarPensionsAndArmedForcesCompensationSchemePayments?highlight=lgbt#contribution-423EEC3E-9624-4FCA-A0B0-4C2530310DFC
. Exchange in Parliament between Carol Monaghan MP and then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty MP over compensation for LGBT veterans: See column 560: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-03-28/debates/B44067C4-66FA-491C-A18F-C46744844F0E/TopicalQuestions?highlight=lgbt#