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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Forces pay-out for sacked gays
From left: Duncan Lustig-Prean , John Becket, Jeanette Smith and Greame Grady
Compensated: the four sacked for being gay
Four former members of the armed forces who were sacked for being homosexual have been awarded compensation by the European Court of Human Rights.

Last September the court said that the UK government had violated their right to respect for their private lives by dismissing them solely because of their sexual orientation.

Each of the four former service people was awarded 19,000 as compensation for the emotional and psychological impact on them of the intrusive investigations into their sexuality and their subsequent discharge from the armed forces.

This settlement is a record for a case of this kind

Angela Mason, Stonewall
In addition, the government was ordered to compensate them for their loss of future earnings and benefits.

Duncan Lustig-Prean, a former naval commander, was awarded the highest amount, almost 95,000.

Former RAF nurse Jeanette Smith, from Edinburgh, was awarded 59,000, John Beckett, a former naval rating from Sheffield, 55,000, and former RAF sergeant Graeme Grady, from London, 40,000.

The government will also have to pay legal costs for the four of more than 80,000.

Following the judgement in their favour last year, the Ministry of Defence abandoned its policy of sacking troops for being homosexual.

"Profoundly destabilising"

In awarding the compensation, the court said the investigations and subsequent sackings of the four were "profoundly destabilising events in their lives"

It said this led to continued "significant emotional and psychological impact".

Angela Mason, a spokesman for Stonewall, a group which campaigns on behalf of homosexual and lesbian rights and which helped the four, said the settlement was a record for a case of its kind.

Angela Mason, Stonewall
Mason: Welcomed settlement
"It reflects the severity with which the European court views discrimination," she said.

"The award will go some way to make up the losses suffered by those people who were forced out of the armed services on the grounds of their sexual orientation."

The four were sacked between July 1993 and January 1995 but their cases were rejected by the Appeal Court in London.

They took their case to the Strasbourg court, saying that investigations into their homosexuality and their subsequent sackings violated their human rights.

The European judges agreed, declaring unanimously that such a bar on entry into the army, navy and air force was illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards an individual's right to privacy.

"Grave interference"

The court found that existing regulations were a "grave interference" in people's private lives.

Mr Lustig-Prean now ran his own property company and Mr Beckett had been employed by the police since 1996, the court said.

Geoff Hoon: "No need for legislation"
It added that Mr Grady worked in the London office of the Chicago Board of Trade but that Ms Smith had worked little since her discharge and was unemployed.

The lifting of the ban on homosexuals in the UK armed forces was announced in January this year.

The Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, said that in future disciplinary action would only be taken if a personal relationship or an individual's behaviour damaged "efficiency or operational effectiveness".

He said: "As no primary or secondary legislation is required...homosexuality will no longer be a bar to service in Britain's armed forces."

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12 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Services gay ban lifted
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