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Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 16:35 GMT
'Morale intact' after gay ban lifted
Soldiers marching
Britain lifted its ban on gay personnel in March 1999
Lifting the ban on gays in the armed forces has had no effect on morale or effectiveness, according to a Ministry of Defence review.

A survey, carried out six months after the government acted on a European Court of Human Rights ruling that the ban was illegal, found that the decision to remove it had been "a solid achievement".

Up to 200 homosexual personnel were sacked each year due to the measure, but the report says the changes were seen as "inevitable" within the services.

Director of the Stonewall gay rights campaign group told The Observer newspaper that the report showed the worst fears of some politicians had come to nothing.

'Pragmatic approach'

Since the ban was lifted in February, there had been "no reported difficulties of note" concerning homophobic behaviour, the report's authors found.

Although some had complained it was "political correctness gone too far", there had generally been a "marked lack of reaction".

The report suggests the change of policy had been helped to succeed by "a mature and pragmatic approach".

It was published on the internet by a military policy researcher at the University of California, who is examining the effects of the inclusion of homosexuals in the armed forces.

It concludes that, in contrast to predictions made by opponents of the change, the policy has had "no discernible impact, either positive or negative" on recruitment.

Legal bills and compensation payouts to homosexuals discharged from the armed forces because of their sexuality have so far cost the taxpayer more than half a million pounds.

That includes the cost of the four cases won by former military personnel in the European Court of Human Rights in September 1999 and of settling employment tribunals.

Settlement negotiations continue on further employment tribunal cases.

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