U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologized Wednesday for the treatment of gay veterans, saying that a previous ban on LGBTQ+ people serving in the U.K. military was “an appalling failure of the British state.”
The apology came after an independent review published Wednesday estimated that hundreds, if not thousands, of veterans were dismissed or suffered under an official ban on homosexuality in the U.K. armed forces that was enforced until 2000.
“As today’s report makes clear, in that period many endured the most horrific sexual abuse and violence, homophobic bullying and harassment, all while bravely serving this country,” Sunak told Parliament. “Today, on behalf of the British state, I apologize.”
“The survivors have waited for at least 23 years for acknowledgment of what they have suffered, and for justice and restitution,” it added.
The report also recommended that financial compensation should be made to victims, even if litigation time limits have expired.
“From a personal point of view, the ban affected me in terms of who I was and what I couldn’t be for 34 years,” Holmes said.
The ban on homosexuality was abandoned in 2000, when the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of four service personnel who were investigated and then discharged because of their sexuality.