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UK: Ban on gays in the military was lifted 15 years ago today

It is 15 years to the day since the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the UK armed forces was lifted.

Prior to the action, the Armed Forces Policy and Guidelines on Homosexuality claimed that the homosexual lifestyle was “incompatible” with military life “because of the close physical conditions in which personnel often have to live and work, and also because homosexual behavior can cause offense, polarize relationships, induce ill-discipline and damage morale and unit effectiveness”.

However, in September 1999, the European Court of Human Rights found that the armed forces had breached the human rights of LGBT personnel by firing them after discovering their sexuality.

Tony Blair’s Labour government announced it would comply with the ruling and would immediately lift the ban – with changes to the law coming into effect from January 12, 2000.