US president Joe Biden to pardon US Military personnel convicted of Homosexuality

U.S. President Joe Biden has announced he will issue a proclamation giving mass clemency to veterans convicted under a now-revoked law that banned homosexuality in the United States armed forces.

Biden announced in a statement issued on Wednesday that his act of clemency was “righting a historic wrong”. The pardon could offer thousands of former military personnel court-martialled under laws making gay sex between consenting adults a crime.

“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,” the statement read. Some of these patriotic Americans were subject to court-martial, and have carried the burden of this great injustice for decades,” Biden said in a statement.

The proclamation would affect those convicted of engaging in sodomy under Article 125 of the Code of Military Justice. The law came into force in 1951. It was rewritten in 2013 to prohibit only forcible acts.

The majority were convicted before the military instituted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 1993, which eased the way for LGBTQ troops to serve if they did not disclose their sexual orientation. In 2011, Congress allowed their open service in the military.

The administration is seeking ways to reach out to individuals who might be eligible for clemency.

Those covered can apply for proof that their conviction has been erased and have their discharges from the military upgraded, enabling them to recover lost pay and benefits.

The president’s use of his pardon powers comes during Pride Month, and days before he is set to hold a high-profile fundraiser with LGBTQ donors on Friday.

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