Views on homosexuality and the military

The military forces of the world have differing approaches to the enlistment of homosexual (gay and lesbian) and bisexual individuals. The armed forces of most developed countries have now removed policies excluding non-heterosexual individuals (with strict policies on sexual harassment).

Nations that permit gay people to serve openly in the military include the 4 of the 5 members of the UN Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, and Russia), the Republic of China (Taiwan), Australia, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, and all NATO members excluding Turkey.[1]

Countries that allow gay people to serve

Albania

Gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve in the Military of Albania since 2008.

Argentina

As of 2009, the Argentine government has officially ended the ban on gays in the Argentine Armed Forces.[2] A new military justice system was put into effect which decriminalizes homosexuality among uniformed members, and moves crimes committed exclusively within the military to the public justice sphere [previously there had been a separate military court system].

Under the old system, gays were not permitted to have access to a military career, at the same time as this sexual orientation was penalized. And, while there are no publicly known former sanctions against gays under the old policy, this does not mean that men and women with that sexual orientation have not been disciplined, and perhaps separated from the armed forces under a mantle of silence. In fact, with this new system, gay men or lesbian women who wish to train in the forces should encounter no impediment, nor any military retaliation areas.

Australia

Main article: Sexual orientation and the military of Australia

Australia has allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly since 1992.[3]

Austria

Austria permits homosexuals to serve openly in the Austrian Armed Forces.[4]

Bahamas

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The government made the announcement in 1998.[5][6]

Belgium

Belgium permits homosexuals to serve openly in the Belgian Armed Forces.[4] In Belgium, the military accepts gay men and lesbians into service. However, if the behaviour of an individual who is gay or lesbian causes problems, that individual is subject to discipline or discharge. In some cases, homosexual personnel have been transferred from their unit if they have been too open with their sexuality. The Belgian military also continues to reserve the right to deny gay and lesbian personnel high-level security clearances, for fear they may be susceptible to blackmail.[7]

Bermuda

The Military of Bermuda does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, as it is formed by random lottery-style conscription. Officially, members of the Bermuda Regiment are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing gay soldiers;[8] such activities, however, are tolerated by officers, to the extent that one conscript described the Regiment as "the most homophobic environment that exists".[9]

Brazil

There is no law forbidding lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trangenders from serving in the Brazilian Armed Forces. Sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be an obstacle for entry into the police force or the military in Brazil, and transgendered males (including travestis) should make conscription as any Brazilian male citizen. All sexual acts are disallowed between members of the forces, be them heterosexual or homosexual.[10]

The Constitution of Brazil prohibits any form of discrimination in the country. The Brazilian Armed Forces does not permit desertion, sexual acts or congeners in the military, whether heterosexual or homosexual. They claim that it is not a homophobic rule, but a rule of discipline that also includes the opposite sex.[11]

In 2008, during a disappearance of a military gay couple, the Ministry of Defence of Brazil spoke: "the sergeant is to be questioned about alleged desertion from the military and there is no question of discrimination." The two soldiers said they had been in a stable relationship for ten years in the Brazilian military.[12]

No information currently exists as to whether military personnel can have their same-sex relationships recognized by the military, despite the fact that federal government employees can receive benefits for their same-sex spouses. Following the Supreme Federal Tribunal decision in favor of civil unions, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim guaranteed the Ministry's compliance with the decision and mentioned that spousal benefits can be accorded to same-sex spouses of military personnel.[13][14]

According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) in 2012, 63.7% of Brazilians support the entry of LGBTs in the Brazilian Armed Forces, and do not see it as a problem.[15]

Canada

As of 1992, lesbians, gays and bisexuals are allowed to serve openly in the military. A study of gays and lesbians in the Canadian military has found that after Canada’s 1992 decision to allow homosexuals to serve openly in its armed forces, military performance did not decline.[16]

The study is the most comprehensive academic study by US researchers of homosexuality in a foreign military ever compiled and reflects an exhaustive inventory of relevant data and research. Its title is "Effects of the 1992 Lifting of Restrictions on Gay and Lesbian Service in the Canadian Forces; Appraising the Evidence".

  • Lifting of restrictions on gay and lesbian service in the Canadian Forces has not led to any change in military performance, unit cohesion, or discipline.
  • Self-identified gay, lesbian, and transsexual members of the Canadian Forces contacted for the study describe good working relationships with peers.
  • The number of military women who experienced sexual harassment dropped 46% after the ban was lifted. While there were several reasons why harassment declined, one factor was that after the ban was lifted women were free to report assaults without fear that they would be accused of being a lesbian.
  • Before Canada lifted its gay ban, a 1985 survey of 6,500 male soldiers found that 62% said that they would refuse to share showers, undress or sleep in the same room as a gay soldier. After the ban was lifted, follow-up studies found no increase in disciplinary, performance, recruitment, sexual misconduct, or resignation problems.
  • None of the 905 assault cases in the Canadian Forces from November, 1992 (when the ban was lifted) until August, 1995 involved gay bashing or could be attributed to the sexual orientation of one of the parties.

A news article by Canadian journalist, Jon Tattrie, reported on the changed attitude towards the presence of homosexual members of the Canadian Forces in his article "Being Gay in the Military" (Metro Ottawa), quoting Canadian Forces spokesperson Rana Sioufi as saying: “Members who are same-sex partners are entitled to the same respect and dignity as heterosexual married couples or common-law partners.”[17]

In the past 20 years, the Canadian Forces has gone from being a homophobic organization that actively hounded out gay and lesbian members to one of the world’s leading advocates of open integration.

—Jon Tattrie, "Being Gay in the Military", Metro Ottawa, August 20, 2010[17]

Republic of China

The Republic of China (Taiwan) repealed their ban on conscripting gay people into the military in 2002.[18] Following an announcement by the Republic of China Armed Forces that it would end a policy banning gays from guarding high level officials and government installations, scholars and military officials said the decision signaled a bold step for an Asian military force. The policy change was announced after a local newspaper revealed the discriminatory practice, prompting protest demonstrations in Taipei, the nation's capital.

Col. Liu of the ROC Naval Attache said that ending the ban on gays in the military police was "a good thing for a democratic society like ours. I don't think this is really a big deal," he said. "It just means Taiwanese society is more open and there are different choices now. If you're gay and you can do the job, that's fine."

Colombia

In 1999, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the prohibition of homosexuals from serving in the armed forces is unconstitutional.[19]

Croatia

Croatia does not have any rules applying to homosexuals serving in the military.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4]

Denmark

Denmark allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4] There are prominent openly gay military leaders in the Danish Armed Forces and there are no reported cases of threats to gays, morale, or national security.[20] A study of the conditions for gay men indicates that gay men in the Danish Armed Forces show strength and are respected.[21]

Estonia

Estonia allows homosexuals to serve openly in the Military of Estonia.[4]

Finland

Finland allows homosexuals to serve openly in the Finnish Defence Forces.[4]

France

France allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4] France has allowed same-sex marriage on May 18th 2013 becoming the 13th country in the world to do so. Thus a ban on homosexuality in the Forces does not appear to be logical nor legal, and, in fact, is not in place. However, the wording is quite peculiar. On 5 May 2000 The Independent stated:

  • France's Armed forces will accept homosexuals into its ranks provided they do not attempt to “convert” others. A defence ministry spokesman was quoted: “We have no intention of introducing recruiting criteria that would take into account the personal practices of individuals.”

In France, indifference characterizes the official attitude towards homosexuals in the military. Although homosexuals were not banned from French military service (before military service was suspended in 1998), it is recognized that they may face greater challenges than their heterosexual counterparts. Thus, they were allowed to opt out of military service if they wish by declaring themselves unfit because of their sexual orientation. Commanders and psychiatrists can also discharge gay and lesbian personnel if they feel they are disrupting their units and cannot fit in.[7]

Germany

The German Bundeswehr ruled that it is forbidden to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The "Working Committee of Homosexual Employees in the Military Forces"[22] is the organization that represents the interests of gay men and lesbians in the armed forces. Heterosexuals and homosexuals alike are allowed to engage in sexual activity while in the military service as long as it does not interfere with the performance of their duties. Lesbian and gay soldiers are also entitled to enter civil unions as defined by Germany's domestic "partnership" law.[23]

The Bundeswehr maintained a "glass ceiling" policy that effectively banned homosexuals from becoming officers until 2000. First Lieutenant Winfried Stecher, an army officer demoted for his homosexuality, filed a lawsuit against former Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping. Scharping vowed to fight the claim in court, claiming that homosexuality "raises serious doubts about suitability and excludes employment in all functions pertaining to leadership." However, before the case went to trial, the Defense Ministry reversed the discriminatory policy. While the German government declined to issue an official explanation for the reversal, it is widely believed that Scharping was overruled by then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and then Vice-Chancellor Joschka Fischer.

Currently, according to general military orders given in the year 2000, tolerance towards all sexual orientations is considered to be part of the duty of military personnel. Sexual relationships and acts amongst soldiers outside service times, regardless of the sexual orientation, are defined to be "irrelevant", regardless of the rank and function of the soldier(s) involved, while harassment or the abuse of functions is considered a transgression, as well as the performance of sexual acts in active service.[24]

Greece

While the Presidential Decree 133 (of 2002)[25] allowed people to avoid the draft for deep psycho-sexual problems, it did not ban homosexuals from the army. The newer 2005 law 3421[26] has removed even the wording that could be misconstrued as offensive to homosexuals. In recent years, the Hellenic army has been shortening the length of conscription and hiring more and more professional soldiers and there hasn't been any incident of someone being fired for homosexuality.

Republic of Ireland

Gay people can serve openly in the Irish Defence Forces.[4][27] Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal.[28]

There has been no preclusion since 1993 when male homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland. Since 1993 there has been significant change to make sure that there was no discrimination in terms of public policy. At the same time as an equal age of consent was introduced for heterosexual and homosexual persons, the Irish Defence Forces announced that they would be treating heterosexual and homosexual members equally. Relationships between senior and junior ranks would continue to be forbidden, as is common in most militaries. There would also be no harassment of gay officers and no questioning of members about their sexuality. The Irish Independent wrote that

In a related development, the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Noel Bergin, told the Irish Independent on Tuesday that a report on the introduction of a code of conduct governing interpersonal relationships is being prepared. The decision to prepare a report follows a recent announcement by the Minister for Defence, Mr. David Andrews, that military regulations would be modified to take account of any reform in the civil law on homosexuality. Mr Andrews is seen as a member of the liberal wing of the Fianna Fáil party. Lt. Gen Bergin pointed out that the Army does not ask potential recruits about their sexual orientation, and that they had few problems in the past in this area.[29]

The then Minister for Defence David Andrews stated in the Oireachtas (parliament) that "While the question of homosexuality is not specifically covered in Defence Force Regulations the provisions of section 169 of the Defence Act, 1954, provide that acts which are in breach of the criminal law of the State are also deemed to be offences against military law."

Information regarding sexual orientation is not sought from personnel wishing to enlist in the Defence Forces and it is not proposed to change this policy. The Defence forces have a code on interpersonal relationships and guidelines in relation to discrimination.

Israel

Israel Defense Forces policies allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly and without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation.[30] This was put into effect in 1993 after an IDF reserves officer testified before the Knesset claiming that his rank had been revoked, and that he had been barred from researching sensitive topics in military intelligence, solely because of his sexual identity.

Homosexuals serve openly in the military, including special units, without any discrimination.[31][32] Moreover, gays in the IDF have additional rights, such as the right to take a shower alone if they want to. According to a University of California, Santa Barbara study,[33] a brigadier general stated that Israelis show a "great tolerance" for gay soldiers. Consul David Saranga at the Israeli Consulate in New York, who was interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times, said, “It's a non-issue. You can be a very good officer, a creative one, a brave one, and be gay at the same time.”[31]

In a comprehensive review of interviews with all known experts on homosexuality in the IDF in 2004,[34] researchers were not able to find any data suggesting that Israel’s decision to lift its gay ban undermined operational effectiveness, combat readiness, unit cohesion or morale. In this security-conscious country where the military is considered to be essential to the continued existence of the nation, the decision to include sexual minorities has not harmed IDF effectiveness. In addition, while no official statistics are available for harassment rates of sexual minorities in the IDF, scholars, military officials and representatives of gay organizations alike assert that vicious harassment is rare.

A study published by the Israel Gay Youth (IGY) Movement in January 2012 found that half of the homosexual soldiers who serve in the IDF suffer from violence and homophobia.[35]

Italy

The Armed Forces of Italy cannot deny men or women of homosexual orientation to serve within their ranks, as this would be a violation of Constitutional rights. However, much prejudice about homosexuals still exists within the Italian armed forces, so that they generally decide to hide their sexual orientation. In the past, homosexual conduct was grounds for being discharged from the Italian armed forces for reason of insanity, and feigning homosexuality was a very popular way to obtain medical rejection and skip draft.

Japan

Japan does not have any rules applying to homosexuals serving in the Self-Defense Forces.[36] The Japan Self-Defense Forces, when being asked about their policy toward gays and lesbians following the U.S. debate during the Clinton presidency, answered that it was not an issue, and individuals within the forces indicated that as long as same-sex relations did not lead to fights or other trouble, there were few, if any, barriers to their inclusion in the armed services.

Lithuania

Lithuania allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4]

Luxembourg

Luxembourg allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4]

Malta

Malta allows gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the armed forces. According to the Armed Forces of Malta, a number of openly gay people serve in the AFM, and the official attitude is one of "live and let live", where "a person’s postings and duties depend on their qualifications, not their sexual orientation".[37]

Netherlands

In 1974, the Netherlands was the first country to ban discrimination against gays in the military.[38] The Dutch government considered homosexuality grounds for dismissal until 1974, when the Association of Dutch Homosexuals convinced the minister of defence that gays posed no threat to national security. The Dutch military formed a working group called Homosexuality and Armed Forces to improve the climate for sexual minorities. In the 1980s, this group became the Homosexuality and Armed Forces Foundation, a trade union that continues to represent gay and lesbian personnel to the ministry of defence.[7]

New Zealand

In New Zealand it has been legal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons to serve in the military since New Zealand's Human Rights Act 1993 ended most forms of employment discrimination against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. New Zealand military leaders did not oppose the end of military service discrimination [39][40]

After the passing of the Human Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on grounds such as ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. As the act came into law, so came the removal of a passage in the NZDF manual of law that referred to homosexuality as an "unnatural offence". Before 1993, even though the Homosexual Law Reform Act had been passed in 1986, officer training included the actions they ought to take upon the discovery of personnel caught in such acts. The DEFGLIS NZ (Defence Force Gay and Lesbian Information Service) is being formed and will be set up by Christmas 2010. Officers involved hope the support network will act as a sounding board, advice group and social network for regular, reserve and civilian members of the troops. Part of the group's role will be to advise on using inclusive words such as partner instead of wife, or letting people know that a saying such as "that's gay" has made it into common parlance while the term "homo" is offensive.

Norway

Norway allows homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces.[4][41] Norway, like most of Scandinavia, is very liberal in regards to LGBT-rights and it also became the first country in the world to enact an anti-discrimination law protecting homosexuals in certain areas.

The Norwegian government states: Anyone who in written or verbal form is threatening, scorning, persecuting, or spiteful toward a gay or lesbian person will be punished with fines or prison of up to two years.[42]

Peru

Until December 2009, Peru had a ban on openly gay people in the armed forces. However, in December 2009, the Supreme Court of Peru held that sexual orientation cannot be a requirement for entry into the police force or the military. The Government accepted the decision.[43] The ruling said "sexual preference of an individual cannot be a requirement or condition to determine his/her capacity or professional competence, including the police and military career. To state this is not only anachronistic, but it violates the principle of human dignity"

Philippines

The Philippine government has officially ended, as of 2010, the ban on gays in the military.[2] In July 2012, the Philippine Military Academy announced that it has welcomed openly gay and lesbian applicants into its fold, giving them the opportunity to serve in the military.[44]

Poland

Poland allows gays to serve openly in the military.[45]

Portugal

Portugal allows all citizens to serve openly in the military regardless of sexual orientation (as the constitution explicitly forbids any discrimination on that basis) [46]

Romania

Homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the Romanian army. According to the Ministry of Defence's recruitment policy, "it is the right of every Romanian citizen to take part in the military structures of our country, regardless of their sexual orientation."[47]

Russia

Before 1993, homosexual acts between consenting males were against the law in Russia,[48] and homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until adoption of ICD-10 in 1999,[49] but even after that military medical expertise statute was in force to continue considering homosexuality a mental disorder which was a reason to deny homosexuals to serve in the military. In 2003, a new military medical expertise statute was adopted; it said people “who have problems with their identity and sexual preferences” can only be drafted during war times.[50] However, this clause contradicted another clause of the same statute which stated that different sexual orientation should not be considered a deviation. This ambiguity was resolved by the Major-General of the Medical Service who clearly stated that new medical statute “does not forbid people of non-standard sexual orientation from serving in the military.”[51] Thereby, as of July 1, 2003, homosexual people in Russia can serve in the military.

Serbia

In May 2010, the head of the Serbian military (Vojska Srbije) announced that the Serbian Army would accept homosexuals to join. However, this news was not widely covered by media.[52]

Slovenia

Slovenia allows homosexuals to serve openly without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation.[53]

South Africa

LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF),[4] and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited by the constitution, statute law and military policy.

The Interim Constitution which was adopted in 1994, and the final Constitution which replaced it in 1997, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 1996 the government adopted the White Paper on National Defence, which included the statement that, "In accordance with the Constitution, the SANDF shall not discriminate against any of its members on the grounds of sexual orientation."[54] In 1998 the Department of Defence adopted a Policy on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, in terms of which recruits may not be questioned about their sexual orientation and the Defence Force officially takes no interest in the lawful sexual behaviour of its members.[55] The sodomy laws were struck down during the same year.

The Equality Act of 2000, which prohibits discrimination, hate speech and harassment, applies to the military just as it does to the rest of society. The Defence Act of 2002 makes it a criminal offence for any SANDF member or Defence Department employee to "denigrate, humiliate or show hostility or aversion to" any person on the grounds of sexual orientation. In 2002 the SANDF extended spousal medical and pension benefits to "partners in a permanent life-partnership",[55] and in 2006 same-sex marriage was legalised.

Spain

Homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the Spanish Army. As of 2009, after the case of Aitor G.R, the courts also ruled that transgender individuals are also permitted to serve in the military.[56]

Sweden

Sweden allows homosexuals to serve openly.[4] The Swedish Armed Forces actively work for an environment where LGBT persons do not feel it to be necessary to hide their orientation.[57] Sweden bans by constitution all kind of discrimination against LGBT-people and was the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.[58]

Switzerland

Switzerland's military policies also allow for gay men and lesbians to serve openly without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation.[23]

Thailand

In 2005, the Thai armed forces lifted its ban on LGBT serving in the military. Prior to this reform, LGBT people were exempted as suffering from a "mental disorder" law of 1954.

United Kingdom

Until 2000, the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) policy was to continue the long standing ban on homosexuals joining any of the Armed Forces, most recently being based on a 1996 report by the Homosexuality Policy Assessment Team, which asserted that to allow gays in the military would be bad for morale, and leave them vulnerable to blackmail from foreign intelligence agencies. As a consequence, around 60 people were dismissed annually from the services for being gay;[59] 298 were dismissed in 1999, the year before the ban was lifted.[60] A legal challenge to this stance was taken up by four people who had been investigated and dismissed for being gay — a female nurse and male administrator dismissed from the Royal Air Force, and a Lieutenant Commander and naval rating, both males, dismissed from the Royal Navy. Their legal challenge was supported by the pressure groups Liberty and Stonewall. After losing the case at the Court of Appeal in London, they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In September 1999, this court ruled that investigations by military authorities into a service person's sexuality breaches their right to privacy (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). In light of the ruling (which as an ECHR ruling applies to the militaries of all member states of the EU and of the Council of Europe), the MOD subsequently lifted the ban, and began allowing gay people into the services from 2000 onwards. According to a national opinion poll published a week before the ruling, the ban had been opposed by 68% of Britons.[59][61]

In 2010, following defeat of repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by the United States Senate, the Colonel Mark Abraham, head of Faith and Diversity for the British Army, told People Management magazine the lifting of the ban on gays serving in the military in 2000 had "no notable change at all... We got to the point where the policy was incompatible with military service and there was a lack of logic and evidence to support it... We knew a lot of gay and lesbian people were serving quite successfully, and it was clear that sexual orientation wasn’t an indication of how good a soldier or officer you could be... The reality was that those serving in the army were the same people the day after we lifted the ban, so there was no notable change at all. Everybody carried on with their duties and had the same working relationships as they previously had while the ban was in place" Colonel Abraham argues that the lifting of the ban actually made the armed forces more productive: "A lot of gay and lesbian soldiers who were in the army before the ban was lifted, reported that a percentage of their efforts was spent looking over their shoulder and ensuring they weren’t going to be caught. That percentage of time can now be devoted to work and their home life, so actually they are more effective than they were before."[62]

Current policy

The MOD's policy since the year 2000 is to allow homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel to serve openly, and discrimination on a sexual orientation basis is forbidden.[23] It is also forbidden for someone to pressure LGBT people to come out. All personnel are subject to the same rules against sexual harassment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The British military actively recruits gay men and lesbians, all three services have deployed recruiting teams to gay pride events, and punishes any instance of intolerance or bullying. The Royal Navy advertises for recruits in gay magazines and has allowed gay sailors to hold civil partnership ceremonies on board ships and, since 2006, to march in full naval uniform at gay pride marches. British Army and Royal Air Force personnel could march but had to wear civilian clothes until 2008, now all military personnel are permitted to attend gay pride marches in uniform.[63]

Speaking at a conference sponsored by the gay advocacy group Stonewall in 2006, Vice Admiral Adrian Johns, the Second Sea Lord, said that homosexuals had always served in the military but in the past had to do it secretly. “That’s an unhealthy way to be, to try and keep a secret life in the armed services,” said Vice Admiral Johns, who as the Royal Navy’s principal personnel officer was responsible for about 39,000 sailors. His speech was titled “Reaping the Rewards of a Gay-Friendly Workplace.”

The current policy was accepted at the lower ranks first, with many senior officers worrying for their troops without a modern acceptance of homosexuality that their personnel had grown up with, one Brigadier resigned.[64] Since the change support at the senior level has grown. General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff (head of the Army), told members of the Army-sponsored Fourth Joint Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Matters that homosexuals were welcome to serve in the Army. In a speech to the conference in 2008, the first of its kind by any Army chief, General Sir Richard said that respect for gays, lesbian, bi-sexual and transsexual officers and soldiers was now "a command responsibility" and was vital for "operational effectiveness".[65]

The British Military immediately recognised civil partnerships and granted gay couples the same rights to allowances and housing as straight couples. The MoD stated "We're pleased personnel registered in a same sex relationship now have equal rights to married couples."[66] The Royal Navy has conducted civil partnership ceremonies on ships and the British Army has held same-sex marriage celebrations in barracks.[67]

Recent events

In 2009, the tenth anniversary of the change of law that permitted homosexuality was celebrated, including in the July 2009 cover story of the Army's in house publication Soldier Magazine, and articles in some national newspapers. James Wharton became the first openly gay soldier in the British Army's history to appear on the front cover of the magazine.[68][69][60]

United States

Homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the United States military. Military policy and legislation had previously entirely prohibited gay individuals from serving, and subsequently from serving openly, but these prohibitions were ended in September 2011 after the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the policy.

The first time homosexuals were differentiated from non-homosexuals in the military literature was in revised army mobilization regulations in 1942. Additional policy revisions in 1944 and 1947 further codified the ban. Throughout the next few decades, homosexuals were routinely discharged, regardless of whether they had engaged in sexual conduct while serving. In response to the gay rights movements of the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Defense issued a 1982 policy (DOD Directive 1332.14) stating that homosexuality was clearly incompatible with military service. Controversy over this policy created political pressure to amend the policy, with socially liberal efforts seeking a repeal of the ban and socially conservative groups wishing to reinforce it by statute.

A legislative policy was enacted in a 1993 bill signed by President Bill Clinton. The new policy continued the ban under which homosexuals were prohibited from serving in the military and their discharge was required. The main change that the new policy made was to prohibit investigation into a member's sexual orientation without suspicion. The new policy was known as "Don't ask, don't tell" and was seen as a compromise between the two political efforts.

Pressure to overturn the ban continued to build throughout the 1990s and 2000s, as public opposition to gay rights waned. President Barack Obama signed a bill into law in December 2010 which created a future pathway to allow homosexuals to serve in the military.[70] Under the terms of the bill, the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy remained in place until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certified that repeal would not harm military readiness, followed by a 60 days waiting period.[71][72][73] In early 2011, military leaders began issuing training plans for the expected repeal of the ban.[72][74][75] A court order on July 6, 2011, required the Pentagon to immediately suspend the ban, which the government complied with. The legislative repeal of the ban took effect on September 20, 2011.[76][77]

One year after repeal, a study published by the Palm Center found that openly gay service has not resulted in a negative net impact to the U.S. military.[78]

Per the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, lawful same-sex spouses will be afforded the same rights as heterosexual spouses.

Uruguay

Gays were prohibited from serving in the Uruguayan armed forces under the 1973–1985 military dictatorship, however this prohibition was lifted in 2009 when a new decree was signed by Defence Minister Jose Bayardi which provided that sexual orientation would no longer be considered a reason to prevent people from entering the armed forces.[79][80]

Countries that disallow homosexuals from serving in the military

Countries with ambiguous policies

Mexico

The Mexican Armed Forces' policy on sexual orientation is ambiguous, leaving gay soldiers in a "legal limbo". Officially, there is no law or policy preventing homosexuals from serving, and applicants are not questioned on the subject. In practice, however, outed gay soldiers are subject to severe harassment and are often discharged. One directive, issued in 2003, described actions "en contra de la moral o de las buenas costumbres dentro y fuera del servicio [sic]" ("contrary to morality or good manners on- and off-duty") as serious misconduct warranting disciplinary action. Other references to morality are found throughout military documents, leaving room for interpretation with regards to sexual orientation. Although there is no clear position from current military leadership, several retired generals have agreed that gay soldiers were usually removed from service either through an encouraged withdrawal or dishonorable discharge.[83]

South Korea

Civil rights for homosexual citizens are guaranteed in South Korea under the Korean Human Rights Committee Law, but in practice homosexuals may still face discrimination during military service, which is mandatory for all male citizens. Conscripts are profiled at the time of enlistment and homosexuals may be categorized as having a "mental handicap" or "personality disorder", which may lead to a dishonourable discharge.

Article 92 of the Military Penal Code categorizes sexual relations between members of the same sex as "sexual harassment", regardless of whether it is consensual. Consensual sex between homosexuals may be regarded as "reciprocal rape", punishable by up to a year's imprisonment for both parties. These laws and practices have faced legal challenges during recent years.

See also

  • Same-sex unions and military policy

Source

References

Further reading

  • Belkin, Aaron; Levitt, Melissa. (2001) "Homosexuality and the Israel Defense Forces: Did Lifting the Gay Ban Undermine Military Performance?" Armed Forces & Society 27#4 pp 541-565.
  • Frank, Nathaniel, ed. (2010) Gays in foreign militaries 2010: A global primer online

External links

  • The Palm Center, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Center for Military Readiness
  • Military Culture: European
  • Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military of the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Proud2Serve.net: Information and Resources on the UK Armed Forces approach to homosexuality
  • Stonewall UK: Armed Forces
  • Defence Gay and Lesbian Information Service - Australia
  • OutServe, US Site for serving soldiers
  • West Point LGBT Alumni
  • Human Rights Watch report: Uniform Discrimination The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy of the U.S. Military
  • Survivor bashing – bias motivated hate crimes
  • Blue Alliance – LGBT Alumni of the US Air Force Academy
  • History of gay and lesbian discrimination in Canadian Military
  • Thomasson v. Perry – The 1st "As Applied" challenge of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to reach the U.S. Supreme Court
  • DEFGLIS is an organisation of Regular, Reserve and Civilian members of the Australian Defence Organisation who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender (GLBIT) and allies.
  • Watch National Film Board of Canada documentary on homosexuals in the military during World War II

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