BMA disputes compensation cap for LGBTQ army personnel

by Tim Tonkin

Ban of LGBTQ personnel was pursued ‘in a rigorous and often brutal way, with long-term damaging consequences’

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 14 February 2024
Downing Street Sign 23129

The BMA has called on the Government to reconsider its plan to limit compensation to veterans affected by the armed forces ban on LGBTQ personnel.

The association’s armed forces committee has expressed its concern with a proposed cap of £50m on compensation claims for armed forces' members who faced discrimination and discharge from the military during the years of the ban.

An independent review published last year into the effect of the ban on LGBTQ people in the armed forces, made a total of 49 recommendations including financial compensation for those directly affected by the ban, which was in place between 1967 and 2000.

In the preface to his report, Lord Etherton notes that while not ‘enforced uniformly across the armed forces’ the ban on and persecution of LGBTQ personnel was frequently pursued ‘in a rigorous and often brutal way [and] with long-term damaging consequences’.


Claims number unclear

Although the report’s author Lord Etherton called for the ‘government’s exposure’ to the total amount of compensation to be capped at £50m, the BMA has labelled imposing such a limitation as arbitrary given that it is unclear how many claims may ultimately be made.

In a letter to minister for defence people and families Andrew Murrison, AFC interim chair Sandy Wood warns that the suffering inflicted by the ban had been deep and long-lasting, adding that a cap on compensation risked ‘adding insult to injury’.

He said: ‘We were dismayed to learn that the Government intends to limit its financial compensation for those impacted by the LGBT ban in the armed forces to £50m without identifying how many individuals are eligible to claim.

‘By arbitrarily capping the overall amount of compensation, and potentially the amount due to an individual, risks only adding insult to injury.

‘We urge the Government to reconsider enforcing a cap on the fund for reparations for the veterans covered by the review. Veterans who were dismissed or discharged as a result of the ban suffered lifelong harms to their health, wellbeing, personal finances and careers.

He added: ‘Our members and all who were affected deserve meaningful recognition for this deep suffering. Compensation should not be constrained by poor foresight and a lack of understanding of the injury and losses of the individuals impacted by this deeply problematic policy.’

The AFC’s letter comes as the BMA and other organisations mark LGBTQ history month, which this year focuses on medicine and healthcare.

Read the letter