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R v Ministry of Defence, ex p. Smith [1996] QB 517

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 04/01/2024 07:18

Judgement for the case R v Ministry of Defence, ex p. Smith


  • The case affirmed the principle of proportionality, emphasizing that government policies, especially those affecting individual rights, must be proportionate to the goals they seek to achieve.


  • Four individuals, three men, and one woman, were discharged from the armed forces solely because of their homosexuality. None of them had committed any criminal or service-related offenses.

  • They were all competent and loyal service members who had anticipated long careers. Their lives were significantly disrupted due to their forced discharge.

  • The appellants are challenging the legality of their discharges and the policy that led to it. They argue that the policy is irrational, violates the European Convention on Human Rights, and goes against the Equal Treatment Directive.


  • Appeal dismissed.


  • R v Ministry of Defence, ex p. Smith was a pivotal case that addressed the discriminatory policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the British armed forces, particularly because of the controversial ruling.

  • The case had significant legal and societal implications, particularly in terms of human rights and equality in the military and other public sectors.

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