Court Overturns British Military's Homosexual Policy

September 28, 1999

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Britain's ban on homosexuals in the military violates the right to privacy, making it a near certainty that the British armed forces will be forced to accept homosexuals, something they have resisted in the past.

  • Over the past 30 years, somewhere between 600 and several thousand homosexuals have been discharged from the British armed forces.
  • Defending its policy, the British government argued that the presence of homosexuals depressed morale, incited prejudice, and disrupted people's ability to do their jobs.
  • It cited a 1996 survey that reported a preponderance of members of the military did not want to serve with homosexuals.
  • However, the court, made up of judges from Britain, France, Cyprus, Lithuania, Austria, Norway and Albania, ruled 7-0 against British policy.

The court said Britain had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says that "everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

Source: Sarah Lyall, "European Court Tells British To Let Gay Soldiers Serve," New York Times, September 28, 1999.

 

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