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Bisexual UK navy veteran stripped of medals to sue

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London, May 9 (IANS) A veteran who was dismissed from Britain’s Royal Navy because of his sexual orientation, has planned to sue the UK’s Defence Ministry for the return of his medals, which were cut from his chest when he was expelled in 1993.

Joe Ousalice, 68, said he was "hounded out" of the navy and made to feel "disgusting" for being bisexual, after serving for almost 18 years, reports CNN.

The British armed forces banned LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — service members until 2000, when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was unlawful.

Ousalice, a former lead radio operator, served in the 1982 Falklands War, carried out six tours of Northern Ireland and travelled with the navy to Hong Kong and Egypt. He was awarded a long-service medal and good conduct badges.

"The navy wasn’t just my job, it was my life," he said in a statement on Wednesday. "But to do it I had to hide another important part of me, which I did because I loved the navy life so much I didn’t want to give it up. But I shouldn’t have been asked to choose."

Ousalice concealed his sexuality in the navy but feared he was under surveillance by its Special Investigation Branch.

While on shore leave in 1992, Ousalice was charged with and convicted of indecency in a civilian court, a charge he denies. Later, the navy accused him of indecent assault.

Ousalice was dismissed from the navy and his medal and badges were cut from his chest directly after the trial, an incident he said "took me years to recover".

Emma Norton, head of legal casework at the human rights group Liberty, which is representing Ousalice, told CNN: "At the time, the Ministry of Defence were actively seeking out LGBT people and submitting them to surveillance and hounding them out.

"Liberty has been contacted by a lot of LGBT people who would describe things like their (mail) being opened, their friends and family being questioned, being followed around town when on leave, being followed into pubs. They had to live a secret life."