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Ministry of Defence

Military Awards Commemorations

Guidance on the restoration of Military Medals to personnel discharged on the basis of their sexuality.

Background

Prior to 2000, a number of armed forces personnel were discharged from service on the basis of their sexuality. Some received convictions under specified legislation for homosexual behaviour that has now been de-criminalised, while others were discharged solely on the basis of their sexuality, without any conviction.

In the course of their discharge, some personnel either forfeited medals directly, or were prevented from continuing to serve and thus denied the ability to regain medals that might previously have been forfeited for unrelated reasons.

The MOD is committed to addressing this historical wrong and is introducing a policy which enables individuals to apply to have their medals restored. Applications for restoration will be considered on the basis of the facts available and submitted for approval to the Defence Council who will exercise the powers invested in them by the 1985 Royal Warrant on the Grant Forfeiture and Restoration of Medals.

Consideration of applications

Where available, service records will be examined to confirm that applicants meet the criteria for restoration. Single service personnel staffs will make a recommendation on restoration on the basis of the facts available and their conclusion will be forwarded to the Defence Services Secretary who will review the case before submitting to the Defence Council for a final determination.

For restoration to be considered under this policy there must be clear evidence that discharge from the service and forfeiture of medals was for a reason primarily connected with sexuality and that there are no other significant issues which were the cause of their dismissal. Where it is felt that the evidence is not clear cut, extra information is required to understand the circumstances under which a medal was forfeited, or if there is another basis on which the medal might remain forfeited, applicants will, where appropriate, be given the opportunity to provide further information or representations in writing.

If the Defence Council decides upon the restoration of a medal, the MOD Medal Office will arrange for a new medal to be awarded to the claimant, as an original.

How to apply

Anyone who believes that these conditions apply to them will be entitled to have their case considered under this policy.

An applicant who was not the subject of a conviction covered by section 92 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 but who was discharged from the service solely on the basis of their sexuality, should apply to the MOD Medal Office with a covering letter summarising the circumstances of their discharge from the armed forces using the medals application form.

Where a deceased individual was not the subject of a conviction but was discharged from military service solely on the basis of their sexuality, the next of kin may apply to the MOD Medal Office for the return of the relevant medals.

In the case of a living applicant who received a conviction for sexual offences that have since been decriminalised, they must first be able to present a valid disregard determination from the relevant authority (for example, Home Office). However, disregard determinations can only be granted to living individuals and this route would not be available to next of kin.

Past Convictions

An applicant who received a conviction for a sexual offence that has since been repealed and for which a disregard may be obtained under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 or the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018, must first be able to present a valid disregard determination from the relevant authority (i.e. in England and Wales, the Home Office-led ‘disregard’ scheme) and should then apply in writing to honours@cabinetoffice.gov.uk providing evidence of their valid disregard, along with their full name, address, date of birth, and details regarding which medals they forfeited and the circumstances under which they were forfeited.

For further information on the disregard process please visit the How honours system works. Once a disregard determination has been confirmed and the application reviewed, Cabinet Office will pass any armed forces cases to the Ministry of Defence for further action.

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