Sky’s powerful new doc will give voice to gay veterans who were discharged from the armed forces

Still from upcoming Sky documentary, Forced Out. (Sky)

A damning new documentary will chronicle the story of countless LGBTQ+ veterans who were dishonourably discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

One-off feature Forced Out will include heartbreaking and unique testimonials from the thousands of UK army, navy and RAF personnel affected by the ban on being openly LGBTQ+ in the armed forces.

The ban was lifted by the European Court of Human Rights in 2000 after a huge campaign from gay rights activists, but the implications have shaped the lives of LGBTQ+ veterans to this day.

The documentary explores how “thousands faced intrusive interrogations by military police and many were imprisoned, had medals removed, and lost their service pensions”.

It is hooked to an independent government review, set to be released this summer, about the experiences of LGBTQ+ veterans during the ban.

The UK government called for people who served in the military between 1967 and 2000 to come forward with their reflections.

You may like to watch

Its aim is to see “the consequences for their future lives”, the accessibility of veteran services for LGBTQ+ people, and to make sure they are “recognised and fully accepted as members of the armed forces”.

Athlete and ex-soldier Dame Kelly Holmes feared being outed while in the military. (Getty)
Athlete and ex-soldier Dame Kelly Holmes feared being outed while in the military. (Getty)

Last year ex-army soldier and Olympic medal-winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes bought the pre-2000 ban back into national conversation after coming out as gay.

The athlete has since opened up about knowing she was gay from the age of 17, in 1997, after kissing a fellow female soldier. She shared her fears at being outed and the real life impact the ban had on her sexuality journey.

“There have been lots of dark times where I wished I could scream that I am gay – but I couldn’t. I was convinced throughout my whole life that if I admitted to being gay in the army, I’d still be in trouble” she said at the time.

Across the pond in the US, the Golden Globe-nominated film The Inspection has reflected on the equally damaging ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy.

The policy, which was only overturned in 2011, forced LGBTQ+ soldiers in the US to stay in the closet and hide their sexuality.

Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection, which stars Jeremy Pope in the lead role, draws from his own life experiences as a soldier while the policy was in place, and reveals surprisingly positive insights.

“I thought I was worthless, because I was gay. And then I joined the Marine Corps. And my drill instructor told me that I had value and I was important because of my ability to protect the person to my left and to my right,” he shared with PinkNews during the London Film Festival premiere.

Forced Out airs on Sky in summer 2023. We’ll keep you updated as and when a release date is announced.

Please login or register to comment on this story.