Married veteran loses discrimination case after RAF wrongly assumed he was gay

Corporal Sean Walsh was disgraced from the RAF in 1975 - SOLENT NEWS &;  PHOTO AGENCY

Corporal Sean Walsh was discharged from the RAF in 1975 – SOLENT NEWS & PHOTO AGENCY

A married veteran who was dishonorably dismissed after the RAF believed he was gay has lost a discrimination case in a decades-long fight to clear his name.

Corporal Sean Walsh, 75, claims he was discriminated against because he was falsely accused of having “homosexual tendencies” and ordered out after more than 10 years of service.

At the time, there was a ban on gay men and women serving in the armed forces.

He has now lost his sexual orientation discrimination case after an employment tribunal ruled he had no jurisdiction over the incident, which happened almost 50 years ago.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) had previously told Mr Walsh that although what he experienced in 1975 ‘would not be tolerated today’, the decision was still legal.

The allegation

Mr Walsh – an RAF telegrapher who was given ‘top secret’ duties and awarded an Aden Terror Campaign Medal – served from September 1963 until his discharge in August 1975.

That year, he was at the now-closed RAF Gan base in the Maldives when he found himself at the center of allegations that he had a relationship with a “transvestite” in Singapore.

Mr Walsh said: ‘I was questioned by a sergeant from the RAF’s Special Investigations Branch and was advised that an allegation had been made against me and that I was now suspected of having homosexual tendencies, which I have denied and continue to do.

“I was accused of having homosexual tendencies because a former colleague said that I went with a transvestite in Singapore. [It is] not true.”

He continued: “The sergeant, accompanied by two other military policemen, then carried out an unlawful search of my room when I was not allowed to enter, and personal letters were confiscated.”

He was taken back to RAF Innsworth, Glos, and told he faced possible jail time.

A dishonorable discharge

Mr Walsh said: ‘I was advised by the Commanding Officer RAF Innsworth that the allegations about my sexuality were sufficient to warrant my release, and I was given the following two choices.

“Accept the findings and subsequent judgment of the Investigating Authority (RAF), or be tried by court martial, with the possibility of a custodial sentence in a military prison.

“I felt I had no choice but the first and was given a dishonorable discharge, marked on my RAF records as ‘Services no longer needed’.”

He added: “I married my second wife in 1981 and hid the real reason for my release from the RAF from her, as I did with other veterans and former colleagues.”

In 2000, the MoD’s gay ban was lifted. Three years later, Mr Walsh instructed lawyers to help him get justice for his release, which meant having to tell his wife the real reason he had left the RAF, which he had hidden from her for 20 years.

However, lawyers told him he “had no reasonable prospect” of success because the laws did not cover the discrimination he alleged he had experienced.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation

In 2020, Mr Walsh again tried to clear his name by filing a claim against the MoD. However, the matter was treated as historical and the investigator said nothing could be done.

The officer said: “In 1975, your dismissal was considered reasonable and legal, even though what you went through would not be tolerated today.”

Mr Walsh, from east London, then decided to sue the Ministry of Defense for sexual orientation discrimination in a central London employment tribunal.

However, Labor Judge Holly Stout dismissed her case in May and said the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

She said that since the court’s jurisdiction was limited to unlawful discrimination, Mr Walsh’s claim could not be heard because the decision to fire him was legal at the time.

The court heard that in addition to seeking action against the Ministry of Defense through a UK court, Mr Walsh this year filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against the British government, alleging a violation of his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Rights.

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