THIS WEEK IN 1997: Labour backs down to military gay ban

Gay rights campaigners accused the government of a lack of courage over the continued military ban on homosexuals.

Thursday, 5th July 2018, 1:15 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:09 pm

Gay rights campaigners accused the government of a lack of courage over the continued military ban on homosexuals.

The government stand came despite comments by senior Labour politicians while in opposition which appeared to signal the ban's days were numbered.

But Labour ministers made no immediate move to change the law despite an imminent case in the European Court of Justice involving a former Royal Hospital Haslar, Gosport, navy medic, Terry Perkins, which may have ruled against the ban and led to hundreds of compensation claims.

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Ministers paved the way for a relaxation of the current law over another issue involving homosexuals by saying it would not defend test cases which sought to lower the age of consent for gay sex to 16.

But Ministry of Defence officials confirmed the government would continue to fight a challenge to the military ban on homosexuals which was to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The MoD spokesperson indicated the ban would be reviewed in the future and was eventually lifted in 2000.