Joe Biden pardons thousands of veterans convicted under archaic gay sex ban in historic move

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Joe Biden pardons thousands of veterans convicted under archaic gay sex ban in historic move

President Joe Biden is “righting an historic wrong” by issuing pardons to service members “who were convicted simply for being themselves” under a law banning gay sex that spanned a period of over 60 years.

The president said in a statement shared with CNN: “Our nation’s service members stand on the frontlines of freedom, and risk their lives in order to defend our country.

“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.”

“This is about dignity, decency, and ensuring the culture of our Armed Forces reflect the values that make us an exceptional nation,” he added.

The presidential proclamation, which has been published during Pride Month, relates to Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which criminalised sodomy, including between consenting adults, between 1951 and 2013.

The “full, complete, and unconditional pardon” will impact an estimated 2,000 veterans. It will not automatically change their records but will allow them to apply for a certificate of pardon which will help them access withheld benefits.

Those who were convicted under the law for offences such a rape will not be pardoned.

The veterans will be able to apply for benefits following the pardon (Canva)

“Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves,” Biden said in a statement.

“Despite their courage and great sacrifice, thousands of LGBTQ+ 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.”

Whilst the pardon under this proclamation only applies to the convictions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there are other LGBTQ+ veterans who have been convicted of crimes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and it is “the policy of my Administration to expeditiously consider and to make final pardon determinations with respect to such individuals”.

Speaking with reporters, a National Security Council official – as quoted by The Guardian – said: “Important to note that the president has been instrumental in remedying this historical injustice through action.

“Even dating back to his role as vice-president, President Biden played a key role during the Obama-Biden administration to effectuate the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.”

She added: “Last fall, he also directed the Department of Defense to announce a proactive review of the military records of former service members who were discharged because of their sexual orientation, recognising that some of these individuals are difficult to get a hold of, and may not even know their eligibility for a review of the conditions of their discharge.”

The pardons will have an effect on what Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits former service people can qualify for and one staffer told the press this will provide a “pathway for the VA to be able to provide these deserving veterans the care and benefits they earned”.

“We know from the White House counsel’s office the administration estimates thousands of individuals were convicted.

“It’s too early to tell how many of those people then apply for and receive their pardon certificates, but the VA is committed to ensuring that they receive the pay and benefits that they deserve,” they said.

The post Joe Biden pardons thousands of veterans convicted under archaic gay sex ban in historic move appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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