A Falklands veteran who says he was forced to leave the Royal Navy and was stripped of his medal because of his sexuality has said he is “over the moon” after his medal was returned to him.
Joe Ousalice, 68, had his medal for long service and good conduct confiscated when he was discharged after revealing his bisexuality before a court martial in 1993.
He successfully took the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to court in order to secure the return of the medal.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace presented the medal back to Mr Ousalice at a ceremony at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth Naval Base.
Mr Ousalice, from Southampton, Hampshire, told the BBC that he was “over the moon – it’s just such a shame it’s taken 27 years to get it”.
He added: “I’m not fighting this just for myself but for hundreds of others who have been treated not too dissimilar to myself.”
The MoD previously said that Mr Ousalice was “treated in a way that would not be acceptable today”.
The spokesman said: “We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.”
Gay people were not allowed to serve in the military until a rule change in 2000.
Mr Ousalice, who had an 18-year naval career, is a former radio operator who served in the Falklands War and the Middle East, as well as six tours of Northern Ireland.
At the 1993 court martial, he was cleared over accusations of indecent assault and being in bed with another sailor.
He said: “I should have always been judged on the basis of my exceptional service and not my sexuality.”
It is understood that the MoD is putting in place a scheme to return other medals to veterans who were stripped of them in similar circumstances, although it is not yet known how many could be affected.