The rainbow White House (Facebook)
The rainbow White House (Facebook)
2 min read

In a historic move and before the unfortunate Presidential debate, US President Joe Biden issued a full pardon for LGBTQ+ soldiers who were discharged over a 60-year period due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This landmark decision aims to correct a “historical injustice” and restore benefits to potentially thousands of former service members.

President Biden described the pardon as a commitment to maintaining “the finest fighting force in the world,” emphasising that every member of the military should feel “safe and respected”. The pardon applies to individuals convicted of offences based on consensual, private conduct with persons aged 18 and older under the military policy in force from 1951 to 2013.

The decision comes as a significant step towards acknowledging and rectifying the discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ service members in the past. Many of these individuals were court-martialed, a fact that President Biden addressed in his proclamation.


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has applauded Biden’s proclamation as a long-overdue act. HRC President Kelley Robinson commented, “This move to rightfully restore reputations lost and gratitude owed to service members who were punished for who they loved is long overdue and a significant step in the right direction.”

Robinson further emphasised that no LGBTQ+ veteran should be denied critical services such as military pensions, home loans, and college tuition benefits just because of who they are. The HRC plans to work with the Departments of Defence and Veterans Affairs to ensure that every LGBTQ+ veteran impacted by discriminatory policies in years past gets the recognition, benefits, and services they deserve.

The ban on openly gay and lesbian service members in the US military was finally repealed by President Barack Obama in 2011. However, the fight for equality continued as a ban on transgender personnel serving in the US military was reversed by President Trump in 2017. When he took office, President Biden signed an executive order in 2021 confirming that transgender soldiers were again welcome in the military.

This pardon is a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in the US and around the world. It serves as a reminder of the progress made and the work still needed to ensure equality and respect for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last Updated on Jul 1, 2024

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