Help for Heroes is calling upon the UK Government to fully implement the recommendations of Lord Etherton’s Review into the impact of the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the Armed Forces upon veterans.

However, whilst we support most of the recommendations in this review, the suggested cap of £50 million (estimated to be £20,000 per victim) on the financial compensation pot falls substantially short of what is needed to replace the victim's loss of earnings and pension entitlements, let alone provide feelings of justice or security in later life. 

The Pre-2000 Ban and it's Impact

In the 1950s, laws were passed criminalising homosexuality, specifically, within the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. Homosexuality was defined under these laws as ‘conduct of a cruel, indecent or unnatural kind’ and could be punished with up to two years in prison.

Although homosexuality was decriminalised for civilians in 1967, it remained a criminal offence within the Armed Forces. The last imprisonment was Airman David Bonney, as recently as 1994, after which time only administrative discharges were undertaken. 

The ban on LGBT+ people serving remained in place until 2000, following a 1999 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the ban was discriminatory, compelling the Ministry of Defence to change its policy to allow LGBT+ people to serve openly.

The impact upon LGBT+ veterans has been profound. They were subject to criminal prosecution, imprisonment and received criminal records, loss of medals and honours, loss of pension entitlements, estrangement from families and friends, forced separation from military society, loss of career, and future employment prospects.  After dismissal, LGBT+ veterans were more likely to suffer from homelessness and decades of health and wellbeing issues. 

The Government has officially responded to the report by Lord Etherton, which uncovered the awful experiences of thousands of LGBT+ veterans and has opened Application and Registration of Interest forms for those who are affected by the ban to access restorative measures.   

Find out more about the history of the ban.  

What we’re doing

  • Lord Etherton's review was commissioned by the UK Government followed a campaign led by Fighting With Pride (FWP), the UK’s only LGBT+ veterans' charity, to provide justice for the hundreds of veterans who served in the military, but who suffered substantial harm to their health, emotions or financially as a result of the ban. We encouraged the veterans’ community to submit evidence to into the review.
  • We supported FWP’s campaign in May 2023 by hosting a roundtable event which brought together key stakeholders from across the Armed Forces and LGBT+ sectors as well as from Government.
  • We have also worked with parliamentarians to build support for the review, lay questions in Parliament and briefed MPs and Peers ahead of the review being debated.

Get involved in this campaign

You can support this campaign by writing to your mp to call for the cap on financial compensation to be scrapped.

All you need to do is select the button below and enter your contact details and postcode into the box. This will show you who your MP is and bring up a template letter for you to send. We’ve provided text to use in the template letter, but please, if you have time, do edit to make it more personal. MPs are more likely to take notice of personalised emails and queries.

If you want more information on this campaign, please contact our Senior Public Affairs and Policy Manager Ted Arnold at