The British Armed Forces lifted its ban on homosexual service members in 2000, but a discharged veteran has found himself threatened with arrest because of a gay relationship he had as a solider in the early 1980s.
In 1983, while serving with the Royal Fusliers, Stephen Close was sentenced to six months in prison for “gross indecency” after he admitted to having a sexual relationship with a male colleague. (Homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain in 1967, but remained an offense in the military until 1994.)
Close was later also convicted of sexual assault because both he and the other man were under 21, the age of consent for gay sex at the time.
That was all water under the bridge, though, until the Crime and Security Act 2010 gave police broad new powers to investigate “serious crimes.” Under the assumption that he may be connected to some unsolved crime, Close, 50, has been ordered to provide a DNA sample—or face arrest.
“If you look at the details of my criminal record, I can’t see what possible threat I’m meant to pose to the public and why I’ve been targeted by police,” Close told the Manchester Evening News. “If I did the same thing today, it would not longer be considered illegal. Yet the police still want my DNA on record and to me it just begs the question ‘why?’”
A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Police Department said authorities understand Close’s sensitivity but says that DNA samples Are necessary: “We are concerned about the particular issues his case raises and therefore we would invite him to make direct contact with Greater Manchester Police so we can review his case,” explained GMP contable Ian Hopkins.
If anything, Close should be issued an apology, not an arrest warrant.