Soldier has ceremonial badge restored after being jailed and discharged for gay kiss in 1983

Author: Donald Padgett

A gay veteran who was jailed and discharged from the U.K. Army in the 1980s for kissing another male soldier had his ceremonial badge cap returned to him in a special ceremony at the Tower of London on Monday, the BBCSteve Close, 61, was court-martialed, sentenced to six months in jail, dishonorably discharged, and forced to register as a sex offender after he was caught kissing another male soldier in a Berlin barracks 1983. He was pardoned for the incident in 2003, but

“I am looking forward to wearing my cap badge next Remembrance Sunday with pride,” Close told the BBC before the ceremony. “For years I was too ashamed to attend any ceremonies.”

Close said he had joined the military in part because he was confused about his sexual attraction to other men, and hoped the experience would overcome these urges. Once inside, however, he found himself attracted to a particular man. He avoided him until they were out with a group of friends for a night on the town. The two men ended up together in the barracks and kissed, thinking they were alone but for another soldier was asleep. The soldier was very much awake, however, and the following morning reported the two men to the authorities.

The two men were both arrested, tried, sent to jail, and discharged. Worse still was having to register as a sex offender.

“It meant I could not work with children or join the police or fire service,” Close told the BBC. “I worked in some jobs where I was sacked without being able to explain what happened when they discovered my Army conviction.”

The ceremonial badge cap signifies which of the U.K.’s 74 regiments or corps the wearer served, akin to a favored team’s baseball cap or soccer scarf.

“The cap badge goes to the very heart of what the Army is about,” Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Kestrel Simson said in a statement last year. “It identifies the soldier as belonging to one of the Army’s 74 Regiments or Corps.”

Same-sex sexual relations were banned in the U.K. military until 2000. Close’s conviction was overturned in 2013.

Close said he plans on attending his next regimental reunion with pride, something he hasn’t felt comfortable doing since he was discharged.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Donald Padgett

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