A British man who fought in the Falklands War is suing the Ministry of Defence. He claims the Royal Navy forced him out for being bisexual and wants his service medals returned.
Joe Ousalice, 68, served as a radio operator for 18 years in the Royal Navy. He received several medals during that time. Ousalice served in the Falklands War, did six tours of Northern Ireland during the Troubles and was also deployed to conflict areas in the Middle East.
He told the BBC that serving in the navy was his ‘life’.
‘I loved life in the navy, because of the comradeship,’ he said.
During his career Ousalice received a Long Service and Good Conduct medal. He also received three Good Conduct Badges.
The fight for medals
Ousalice said senior officers often questioned him about his sexuality during his career. The Navy eventually discharged him in 1993 after accusing him of being in bed with another man. During the Court Marshall, Ousalice said they forced him to reveal his sexuality.
In his discharge report, the Navy wrote ‘he may attempt to corrupt others in the future’. The Navy also stripped him of his medals and badges.
But now he wants them back.
‘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,’ he told the BBC.
‘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.’
Now with the help of human rights group, Liberty, Ousalice is fighting to get his medals returned.
‘I’m disgusted at the way I have been treated and I just want my medal back,’ he said.
A MoD spokesperson said: ‘We are currently looking at how personnel discharged from service because of their sexuality, or now abolished sexual offences, can have their medals returned.’
The ban on LGBTI people serving in the British military ended in 2000. Since then the armed forces have been named in the top 100 of LGBTI employers in Stonewall UK’s annual ranking.
In the 2019 list, the Royal Navy ranked 15th, with the Army at 51 and Royal Air Force at 68.