A COUNCILLOR discharged with disgrace from the Army for being gay has welcomed moves to allow military personnel dismissed for their sexuality to reclaim their medals.

Dave Kelsey, who served in Northern Ireland, spent six months in military prison and was kicked out of the armed forces after his homosexuality was discovered. His service medal was later taken from him.

But he will now be able to reclaim it after the announcement of a new policy yesterday. Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said the new system corrected the “historic injustice”.

Cllr Kelsey, BCP Council’s Armed Forces Covenant Board representative, joined the Army at the age of 16 and two years later was deployed to Ballykelly.

He was awarded the Northern Ireland Medal for the time he spent there.

But in the early 1980s his sexuality was discovered and, after a court martial, he was discharged with disgrace and spent six months in military prison in Germany.

Gay and lesbian soldiers were not allowed to serve in the armed forces until the ban was lifted in 2000.

On his return to the UK Cllr Kelsey’s medal was taken from him and he was left with a criminal record.

This saw him lose out on a police job when he moved to Bournemouth in 1982.

“My sexuality had no bearing on my ability to do my job in the Army,” he said. “In fact, most people knew and had no issue but there was a very old-fashioned approach at the time.

“I was very, very angry at the way I was treated and the way that treatment affected my life but attitudes have changed. It’s just a shame it takes so long for policies and law to catch up.”

Although the ban was lifted in 2000, those previously affected were unable to reclaim medals until Tuesday’s announcement.

The Ministry of Defence said it was “committed to addressing this historical wrong” and that former military personnel, and the families of those who have died, will be able to apply for the honours to be restored.

“It is deeply regrettable that because of their sexuality some members of the Armed Forces were in the past treated in a way that would not be acceptable today,” defence minister Baroness Goldie said.

This has been welcomed by Cllr Kelsey, who said he would apply.

“It’s a shame it’s taken 21 years [since the ban was lifted], but I’m glad this is now in place and that these past wrongs can be righted,” he said.