The King is under pressure to apologize for how the military treated LGBT+ persons before the prohibition on their service was repealed in 2000.
Ahead of the release of an independent assessment that the government has commissioned, campaigners are demanding for increased compensation and recognition.
The Prime Minister is being urged by the LGBT+ advocacy group Fighting With Pride and others to formally apologize on behalf of the Government.
The 64-year-old Duncan Lustig-Prean, a former Royal Navy sailor who was fired after his superiors discovered his involvement and whose case was crucial in the ban’s overturning, declared that the king should apologize when the “time is right.”
He was discussing his inclusion in the Sky documentary Forced Out, which details the experiences of LGBT+ veterans in the armed forces before 2000, as well as how important campaigners battled the Government to have the ban overturned and how it has affected their lives ever since, with the PA news agency.
Mr Lustig-Prean told PA: “While there have been individual apologies from service chiefs, from individual junior ministers, I want to see the Prime Minister apologise on behalf of the Government.
“And frankly I think the time is right – although it’s a difficult precedent for them to set – for the commander-in-chief himself, His Majesty, to apologise as the monarch, our commander-in-chief.
“After all, these were people who were prepared to give their lives for him and were treated in that way.”
He added: “It must be made clear that this historic wrong was an injustice, and that His Majesty recognises that these people had sworn their oath to him, to give their lives for him, in the service of their nation, his nation, and that deserves his apology in the light of a more modern society.”
Before being fired in 1995 for his sexual orientation, Mr. Lustig-Prean served in the military forces for more than 15 years. He said that when his case was ultimately resolved in 1999, he received “significant” compensation totaling over £119,000 for his troubles.
However, he stated that he wants to see compensation for individuals who have not yet received any, as well as a review of certain initial settlements.
Mr Lustig-Prean said: “There are a whole load of people who remain damaged, who have received nothing.
“And when you get it so wrong – when as a recent service chief commented that this stain on the history of our nation was allowed to continue and defended by the ministers and the services – you also need to say sorry for it, you got it wrong.”
After being “forced to resign” from her position as an army nurse after they learned she was a lesbian, Elaine Chambers, 62, co-founded the advocacy and support group Rank Outsiders.
She claimed that in 2009, following a protracted court struggle, she was awarded £63,000 in compensation but was also required to pay her attorneys £18,000.
“After 14 years of legal battle I had built up debts of nearly that amount. So I ended up with very, very little,” she told PA.
She wants the review to lead to the Government providing additional compensation for the loss of her career, saying: “I’ve got to be brutally honest about it. I need and want some form of financial recompense.
“And I would like to have an Army pension, because I did serve Queen and country voluntarily and I was doing a blooming good job at it, and would have stayed on and would have carried on to fulfil my obligations had I been allowed.”
Stonewall’s director of communications and external affairs, Robbie de Santos, said: “For too long LGBTQ+ people in the armed forces were forced to hide who they were or face humiliating inhumane treatment.
“We must never forget the injustices that LGBTQ+ veterans faced for simply being themselves and urge the Prime Minister to commit to ensure they are fairly compensated for their hardship and for him to personally issue a sincere and genuine apology on behalf of the nation.
“This must also be backed up by a commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ+ veterans, and their families, are properly supported by existing services.”
In a joint statement, CEO Caroline Paige and Executive Chair Craig Jones of the LGBT forces charity Fighting With Pride said: “Veterans continue to live with the catastrophic impact to this day.
“An apology from the Prime Minister is a start, a sincere acknowledgement of thousands of lives wrecked when they’d simply wanted to serve their country.”
They added: “Words alone, whoever they’re from, don’t heal the wounds caused by fear, shame and brutal treatment because of a soldier, sailor or aviator’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Proper compensation, wiping unjust criminal records and payment for lost pensions are urgently needed. We’ve waited too long.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are proud of our LGBT+ veterans and grateful for their service in defence of our nation.
“We can confirm that Lord Etherton has concluded his independent review and submitted his report to the Government.
“In line with the terms of reference we will carefully consider the findings and respond in due course.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “His Majesty continues to express his support and thanks to all members of the Armed Forces, in his new role as Commander-in-Chief.”
Sky Documentaries and NOW will begin airing Forced Out on June 8.