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Saturday, September 25, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK


UK

Sacked gay Navy chef may sue MOD



A Royal Navy chef who is almost certainly the last man to be sacked from Britain's armed services for being gay says he may sue.

Richard Young, 25, a reservist at HMS Drake, the Devonport naval base in Plymouth, received his administrative discharge papers on Friday.

He is now awaiting a historic judgement by the European Court of Human Rights.

On Monday it is expected to rule, in a separate case, that the dismissal of three gay men and one gay woman from the armed forces was a violation of their human rights.

If their case is upheld, Mr Young plans to seek compensation from the Ministry of Defence.

Anonymous phone call

Mr Young had worked at the base as a reservist since 1993, and was taken on in a full-time post in May this year.

He said his problems begain with an anonymous telephone call to senior staff.

This led to a disciplinary hearing in which he was asked to say whether or not he was gay. After seeking legal advice he returned to a later meeting to admit that he was.

Mr Young was told he could no longer work at the base because of the impact on his colleagues.

He said on Saturday: "This was going to be my career and I had it taken away from me. I shall be seeking compensation for the loss of my career and my home."

Ban will 'have to die'

The lesbian and gay rights group Stonewall, which is supporting the Strasbourg case, said it believes the ban on gays in the military will "have to go".

Group spokesman Roger Goode said: " We think Mr Young will be the last person to be dismissed for being gay."

The government, however, is likely to drag the issue out until 2001 when the Armed Services Bill is due to be reviewed in parliament.

Mr Goode added: "We think that would be a shabby thing for them to do. We do not think it will be possible. The expected court ruling means that the ban will have to die."

The MoD said it would await the court judgment before commenting substantively on its implications.

According to an NOP poll commissioned by Stonewall earlier this week, seven out of 10 Britons believe lesbians and gay men should be allowed to work in the armed forces.



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