13 Oct 2010

US military told to stop dismissing gay personnel

10:50 pm on 13 October 2010

A federal judge in the United States has ordered the government to immediately stop dismissing homosexuals serving openly in the armed forces.

For the past 17 years, a policy called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has meant servicemen and women cannot admit to being homosexual for fear of dismissal.

Under the policy, established in 1993 under former President Bill Clinton, the US military is forbidden to inquire about service members' sexual orientation, but can expel people discovered to be homosexual.

US District Judge Virginia Phillips has ruled the policy unconstitutional, after a lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay Republican group, on behalf of openly gay military personnel who had been discharged under the policy.

The BBC reports her decision pre-empts the outcome of a Pentagon inquiry into the effect of repealing the policy.

The Department of Justice has 60 days to appeal.