Navy Veteran Awarded for Challenging LGBT Ban

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Navy Veteran Challenging LGBT Ban

A navy veteran who is part of the LGBT community has received an award in recognition of her successful efforts to overturn a discriminatory rule in the UK navy. She achieved this by taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Veteran’s Struggle Leads to Recognition

Emma Riley, residing in Brighton, formerly served as a Royal Navy radio operator. Her navy career was abruptly halted when she was arrested and discharged after she disclosed her sexual orientation to a colleague in the early 1990s.

Her persistent campaigning earned her the title of Hero of the Year at the British Diversity Awards.

A representative from the government remarked on the historical mistreatment of LGBT personnel, stating it was “wholly unacceptable” and urged affected veterans to “apply for restorative measures online”. It is believed that thousands of veterans were impacted by the pre-2000 regulations that criminalized homosexuality in the British military.

Ongoing Impact of Past Discrimination

The LGBT Veterans Independent Review, which was released last year, exposed the harsh treatments many faced, including invasive medical exams and aggressive police inquiries. Shockingly, some were imprisoned for their sexual orientation as late as 1996, with many still carrying criminal records.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously denounced the ban as an “appalling failure” by the British government.

Legal Battle and Victory

Ms. Riley challenged the UK government at the ECHR, contributing significantly to the legislative change in 2000 that permitted LGBT individuals to serve openly in the military.

In a conversation with Kathy Caton on BBC Radio Sussex, Ms. Riley described her experiences in the navy as “humiliating and ridiculous” and “incredibly ostracising”.

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Recognition Amidst Adversity

Reflecting on her award, she expressed astonishment and pride, stating, “I feel I’ve taken something pretty horrific and tried to make something good,” she added.

The government spokesperson reiterated their regret over past treatments, confirming that significant progress has been made in addressing the recommendations from the LGBT veterans review. The spokesperson assured that more details would be forthcoming and continued to encourage LGBT veterans to seek restoration and justice.

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