British offer settlement to gay soldiers
RAF MILDENHALL, England — The British Ministry of Defence is offering 3 million pounds (about $6 million) to dozens of former servicemembers who were wrongly ejected from the military because they are gay.
The settlement being offered — about $100,000 each to 60 former servicemembers — comes as a result of a court case settled several years ago that was filed by a homosexual servicemember, according to MOD spokesman Paul Leat.
“After the trial, we have a duty to pay compensation to any servicemember who was ejected for being homosexual,” Leat said.
Leat said that each individual may accept the payment, or refuse and pursue separate court action.
The settlement offer comes nearly eight years after the MOD allowed openly homosexual servicemembers in the armed forces.
The MOD allowed gay and lesbian servicemembers to serve in January 2000 following a review of its homosexual policy that determined there was “no impact on operational efficiency,” Leat said.
“There is no good reason to exclude homosexuals from the armed forces,” he said.
Leat said the British military does not keep a tally on the number of homosexual in the service.
“I’m sure they are asked, but it doesn’t affect their status,” he said.
Britain’s homosexual policy stands in sharp contrast to the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy instituted by then-President Clinton in 1993. The policy states that homosexuals can serve in the U.S. military as long as they keep their sexual orientation private.
Leat rebuffed reports in pinknews.co.uk — a gay and lesbian news publication — that the MOD conducted undercover stings to oust homosexual servicemembers prior to the 2000 change of policy.
“That’s simply not true,” he said. “There were no undercover stings.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.