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Armed forces: Miliband campaigns for anti-abuse laws

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has used a trip to Afghanistan to launch a cross-party campaign to put an end to discrimination of UK armed forces returning home to the UK.

The pledge came after figures were released showing that some 20% of returning service personnel had experienced violence or attempted violence or had received verbal abuse from strangers whilst wearing their uniform.

The survey of service personnel was conducted by Conservative MP Lord Ashcroft. It showed that 18% were refused service in hotels and pubs whilst in uniform and 25% had been refused a mortgage, loan or credit card due to frequent changes of address.

Mr Miliband said that the Military Covenant, an informal document which details the mutual obligations between the UK and its Armed Forces, should be enhanced to provide new legal rights for servicemen and women.

"We must protect those who protect our nation. I am proud that our country took the step to enshrine the Military Covenant in law and that Labour supported the service charities' campaign to do so. My concern is that we must make the principle that no one suffers disadvantage as a result of service a reality for all and a characteristic that defines the whole of our society," he said.

"Today, I'm saying let's put an end to it. I am calling on the Government to hold urgent talks with all parties, the service charities and the military on how we can make this happen," he added.

Mr Miliband arrived in Afghanistan on Friday morning to enjoy a traditional English breakfast of sausage, egg and beans with troops.

He said that the UK should consider extending anti-discrimination laws used for sexual harassment or racial or religious abuse to protect the armed forces.

"It happens in terms of everything, from the availability of consumer credit to some of them outrageously being turned away from pubs and hotels," he said.

Sources:

Stop abuse of soldiers, says Miliband (The Independent)