Rishi Sunak has apologised to LGBTQ+ veterans for the treatment they received after being fired or forced to leave the military for being gay.

Addressing MPs in Parliament on 19 July, the Prime Minister said: “Many endured the most horrific sex abuse and violence, homophobic bullying and harassment all while bravely serving this country.

“Today on behalf of the British state I apologise.”

Being gay in the British military was illegal until 2000, something which is believed to have affected thousands of veterans.

Catherine Dixon, Vice Chair of Stonewall and an army veteran, believed the apology to be an “important step to achieving justice” for those impacted by the ban.

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“Many were imprisoned, experienced corrective violence, and lived with the stain of criminal convictions because of who they loved and which left some homeless and many unable to work,” she continued.

The apology came after a long-awaited report into the treatment of LGBTQ+ veterans was published.

The LGBT Veterans Independent Review, which was launched last year and is led by Britain’s first openly gay judge Lord Etherton, heard evidence from 1,145 people impacted by the ban.

Emma Riley, a former Royal Navy radio operator, was arrested and discharged for being a lesbian in the early 1990s.

“Having our history, experiences and enormous pain acknowledged and apologised for, hearing that the Armed Services and government that perpetuated institutional bullying will now be held accountable to finally support LBGT+ Veterans, is a relief,” she told the BBC.