The Equalities Act which prohibits discrimination against people based on their race, religion, gener or sexuality should be extended to include members of the Armed Forces, Labour's shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has said.
Writing on The Huffington Post UK on Monday, Murphy said that while there are many examples of government legislating to protect specific groups from discrimination, harassment or abuse, there was no specific legislation to protect members of the military from such attack.
"It is totally unacceptable that elements of the Armed Forces community today face discrimination," he says.
"A recent poll by Lord Ashcroft showed that more than one in five service personnel said they had experienced strangers shouting abuse at them while wearing their uniform in public.
"Nearly one in 20 said they had experienced violence or attempted violence and 18% have been refused service in hotels, pubs or elsewhere."
Murphy adds: "The Equalities Act 2010 prevents against the provision of goods and services, for example service in a bar or access to a hotel, being withheld on the grounds of race, religion or gender, amongst other 'protected characteristics'."
"The Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines state that an offence which is 'committed against those working in the public sector or providing a service to the public' should be treated as an aggravating factor when sentencing the offender.
"The time has come to explore similar protections for those who protect our country."