Wednesday, 17 July 2024.

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President Biden pardons military personnel convicted of homosexuality

United States President, Joe Biden, announced on Wednesday that he would pardon military personnel convicted under a law banning homosexuality in the armed forces for about six decades.

“Despite their courage and great sacrifice, thousands of LGBTQI+ service members were forced out of the military because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some of these patriotic Americans were subject to court-martial, and have carried the burden of this great injustice for decades,” Biden said in a statement.

He said that with the gesture he was “ensuring the culture of our Armed Forces reflect the values that make us an exceptional nation.”

A senior US official told reporters that thousands of people could be eligible for pardons in Biden’s move to “righting a historic wrong.”

The decision specifically concerns Article 125 of the Code of Military Justice, dating from 1951 and made obsolete by Congress in 2013.

It made sodomy between consenting adults a crime punishable by court-martial.

Along with the symbolism, anyone granted pardon will also be able to have their military documents amended, which could make them eligible for benefits they had previously been denied.

The United States barred homosexual personnel from serving in the military until 1994, when a policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came into effect.

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The policy prevented service members from being asked about their sexual orientation but still required gay, lesbian, and bisexual personnel to remain closeted to avoid being dismissed from the military until its repeal in 2011.

In September 2023, the Defense Department announced that in a bit to correct merit records, it would conduct a review to identify veterans who received other than honourable discharges which can affect access to benefits as well as harm employment prospects as a result of their sexual orientation.

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Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson is an international writer with expertise in politics, business and public affairs.

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