Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, May 19, 1999 Published at 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK


UK

Gays armed forces ban 'inhumane'

Gay soldiers would "undermine morale", says the MoD

Four gays dismissed from the armed forces have started a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights to the UK ban on serving homosexuals.

Having exhausted their options under British law, they told the court the ruling violated the European Convention of Human Rights.

It is the first time the Strasbourg court has heard such a case against the UK Government.

Former Navy Lieutenant Commander Duncan Lustig-Prean, ex-naval rating John Beckett, one-time RAF clerk Graeme Grady and ex-RAF nurse Jeanette Smith allege the Ministry of Defence policy on gays is inhumane.

All four were discharged after they revealed their sexuality.

The ban breached the human rights treaty, which Britain has signed, by limiting the four's freedom of expression, privacy and freedom from discrimination.

A UK High Court judge would heard previously the case upheld the MoD ban, but predicted it would not last much longer.

In Strasbourg, the government's legal team said the Defence Ministry would reconsider the issue when the next Armed Forces Bill goes before Parliament in 2001.

MoD policy currently describes homosexuality as "incompatible with service in the armed forces".

It adds: "If individuals admit to being homosexual whilst serving and their commanding officer judges that this admission is well founded, they will be required to leave the services."

After the first day in court, Stonewall's executive director Angela Mason predicted victory for gay rights campaigners.

"I doubt very much whether the court will accept that the intrusive questioning of lesbian and gay armed forces personnel is acceptable," she said.

"The comments of the presiding judge make it likely that the ban will be found to violate the European Convention."

Speaking ahead of the court hearing, an MoD spokesman defended the ban.

"It is based on a practical assessment of the impact of homosexuals on military life."



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

18 May 99 | UK
Opposing views in gay debate

27 Feb 99 | UK
Army gay ban 'could be lifted'

02 Nov 97 | UK
Gay leaders defend Cenotaph ceremony





Internet Links


Ministry of Defence

Stonewall

Rank Outsiders


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online