Shropshire veteran rejoins military family after lesbian dismissal

A veteran who was sacked from the Armed Forces for being a lesbian said the charity had helped welcome her “back to the military family”.

When Jean Macdonald was discharge from the Women’s Royal Army Corps in 1981, she was a lance corporal.

The 66-year-old woman from Shropshire veteran claim she was “interrogate” and describe “witch hunts” to destroy anyone who was gay as being “extremely dreadful” at the time.

You may not be aware of your sexuality if you join at a young age, she said.

Until a rule change in 2000, gay people and other members of the LGBT community were not allow to serve in the military.

She stated that “everything was looking up” in her military career and that she was due for a promotion until she was summoned up one day by members of the Specialist Intelligence Branch, who informed her that they suspected she was a homosexual.

“‘We’re going to find you out,’ they shouted and marched me down to my room, where I had to stand while they trashed it.

“They took down my Tina Turner poster because they thought it suggested I was gay since I loved Tina Turner,” the author said.

They seized my pyjamas, claiming they belonged to guys, along with letters and pictures; it appeared as though you had the word “lesbian” tattooed on your forehead.

She described the services as “completely homophobic” in retrospect.

She and other veterans who had requested information about military police investigations and interrogations were told last year that the files had been eras in 2010.

A search of the service police database yielded only one record about her discharge, which read: “Conducting oneself dishonourably – unnatural deed.”

An independent study of how the Arm Forces handled members of the LGBT community, which is estimated to have affected over 5,000 people, is scheduled to report in May.

“All of a sudden, you’ve lost your career, your love, and your pride in serving your nation,” she said, adding that “no help whatsoever” was provide.

The traumatising nature of the encounter led to years of mental health issues, eventually leading to a diagnosis of complex PTSD.

She said she got no help in the last 40 years and hadn’t addressed veterans’ organisations for “fear of being turned away”.

Shropshire had “reclaimed her veteran status” after interacting with other LGBT veterans through the nonprofits Fighting with Pride and Salute Her over the last 18 months.

She said that the assistance and engagement had given her “hope for the future,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without their assistance,” she stated.

She had attended services at the Cenotaph with the charity Fighting with Pride in 2021 and 2022, the only two when LGBT veterans were permitt.

“I appreciate these organisations for welcoming us back into the military family.”

The Craven Arms homeowner, who has always been a passionate wildlife photographer, was chosen to have photos used on the 2023 Help for Heroes calendar.

The world suddenly seemed less terrible as she held the camera up and peered through the lens, she said.

The MoD has previously declared “past policy against homosexuality in the Armed Forces was repugnant”.

“We truly regret that LGBT+ members serving in defence have faced injustice as a result,” the official continued. Our objective today is to discover the entire scope of the previous restriction and to identify acceptable solutions to past wrongs.

“At the time, the policy was to erase references to previous offences and investigations from service records. There was a legal obligation to guarantee that these records were remove from people’s service records.”