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Sexual orientation and military service


Sexual orientation and military service

  All LGBT people can serve
  GBT men can serve
  LGB people can serve
  GB men can serve
  Ambiguous or conditional policy
  LGBT people are banned from serving
  No military
  No data on LGBT service

LGBT personnel are able to serve in the armed forces of some countries around the world: the vast majority of industrialized, Western countries, in addition to Brazil, Chile,[1][2] South Africa, Israel, and South Korea.[3]

This keeps pace with the latest global figures on acceptance of homosexuality, which suggest that tolerance of LGBT communities is becoming more widespread only in secular, affluent countries.[4]

However, an accepting policy toward gay and lesbian soldiers does not invariably guarantee that LGBT citizens are immune to discrimination in that particular society. Even in countries where LGBT persons are free to serve in the military, activists lament that there remains room for improvement. Israel, for example, a country that otherwise struggles to implement LGBT-positive social policy, nevertheless has a military well known for its broad acceptance of openly gay soldiers.[5][6]

History has seen societies that both embrace and shun openly gay service-members in the military. But more recently, the high-profile 2010 hearings on Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the United States propelled the issue to the center of international attention. They also shed light both on the routine discrimination, violence, and hardship faced by LGBT-identified soldiers, as well as arguments for and against a ban on their service.[7]


  • LGBT Military Index 1
  • History of sexual orientation in the military 2
  • Violence faced by LGBT people in the military 3
  • Transgender military service 4
  • Discrimination faced by LGBT people in the military in militaries without explicit limitations or explicit welcoming 5
  • Being LGBT in the military 6
  • Arguments for including openly LGBT people 7
  • Arguments for not including openly LGBT people 8
  • Countries that allow openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve 9
    • Albania 9.1
    • Argentina 9.2
    • Australia 9.3
    • Austria 9.4
    • Bahamas 9.5
    • Belgium 9.6
    • Bermuda 9.7
    • Brazil 9.8
    • Bulgaria 9.9
    • Canada 9.10
    • Chile 9.11
    • Colombia 9.12
    • Croatia 9.13
    • Czech Republic 9.14
    • Denmark 9.15
    • Estonia 9.16
    • Finland 9.17
    • France 9.18
    • Germany 9.19
    • Greece 9.20
    • Republic of Ireland 9.21
    • Israel 9.22
    • Italy 9.23
    • Japan 9.24
    • Lithuania 9.25
    • Luxembourg 9.26
    • Malta 9.27
    • Netherlands 9.28
    • New Zealand 9.29
    • North Korea 9.30
    • Norway 9.31
    • Peru 9.32
    • Philippines 9.33
    • Poland 9.34
    • Portugal 9.35
    • Romania 9.36
    • Russia 9.37
    • Serbia 9.38
    • Singapore 9.39
    • Slovenia 9.40
    • South Africa 9.41
    • Spain 9.42
    • Sweden 9.43
    • Switzerland 9.44
    • Taiwan 9.45
    • Thailand 9.46
    • United Kingdom 9.47
      • Current policy 9.47.1
      • Current Situation 9.47.2
    • United States 9.48
    • Uruguay 9.49
  • Countries that disallow homosexuals from serving in the military 10
  • Countries with ambiguous policies 11
    • Mexico 11.1
    • South Korea 11.2
  • See also 12
  • Sources 13
  • References 14
  • Further reading 15
  • External links 16

LGBT Military Index

  • The Palm Center, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Center for Military Readiness, Livonia, MI, Non-profit educational organization focusing on traditionalist military personnel policy: see Center for Military Readiness
  • Military Culture: European
  • Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military of the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Information and Resources on the UK Armed Forces approach to homosexuality
  • Website of the British Army's LGBT Employee Network
  • 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 Open Secrets, a National Film Board of Canada documentary on homosexuals in the military during World War II

External links

  • Belkin, Aaron, et al. (2013) "Readiness and DADT Repeal: Has the New Policy of Open Service Undermined the Military?" Armed Forces & Society 39#4 : 587-601
  • 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.
  • Burg, B. R. (2002) Gay Warriors: A Documentary History from the Ancient World to the Present (New York University Press, 2002)
  • De Angelis, Karin, et al. (2013) "Sexuality in the military." in International Handbook on the Demography of Sexuality (Springer Netherlands, 2013) pp 363–381.
  • Frank, Nathaniel, ed. (2010) Gays in foreign militaries 2010: A global primer online
  • Frank, Nathaniel. (2013) "The President's Pleasant Surprise: How LGBT Advocates Ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Journal of homosexuality 60, no. 2-3 (2013): 159-213.
  • Frank, Nathaniel. (2009) Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America
  • Okros, Alan, and Denise Scott. (2014) "Gender Identity in the Canadian Forces A Review of Possible Impacts on Operational Effectiveness." Armed Forces & Society 0095327X14535371.
  • Polchar, Joshua, et al. (2014) LGBT Military: A Strategic Vision for Inclusion (The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, 2014)

Further reading

  1. ^ "Chile’s National Military Announce a Milestone in Sexual Orientation". Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gay rights group lauds efforts to make Chilean military more inclusive". The Santiago Times. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Frank, Nathaniel. "How Gay Soldiers Serve Openly Around the World". NPR. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Global Divide on Homosexuality Greater Acceptance in More Secular and Affluent Countries". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Yaron, Oded. "Israeli LGBT activists mobilize online after gay rights bill fails". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Sherwood, Harriet. "Israeli military accused of staging gay pride photo". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Bacon, Perry (2010-05-28). "House votes to end 'don't ask, don't tell' policy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Ed Pilkington. "US ranks low in first-ever global index of LGBT inclusion in armed forces". the Guardian. 
  9. ^ "LGBT Military Index - News - HCSS Centre for Strategic Studies". HCSS Centre for Strategic Studies. 
  10. ^ "LGBT Military Index - Monitor". 
  11. ^ A Brief History of Gays in the Military, Feb 2, 2010, Times, Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  12. ^ Homosexuality in Greece and Rome , 2.14 Plutarch, Pelopidas 18-19
  13. ^ Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, Tsuneo Watanabe and Junʼichi Iwata, 1989.
  14. ^ Brief History of Gays in the Military
  15. ^ European Court of Human Rights Overturns British Ban on Gays in Military,Richard Kamm, Human Rights Brief 7, no. 3, 2000, p. 18-20
  16. ^ Homosexuals in the U.S. Military: Open Integration and Combat Effectiveness, By Elizabeth Kier, International Security 23, no.2, MIT Press, 1998, p. 5-39
  17. ^ "GAYS IN FOREIGN MILITARIES 2010: A GLOBAL PRIMER" (PDF). Palm Center. 2010. 
  18. ^ Countries Where Gays Do Serve Openly In The Military, May 25, 2011 Retrieved 2013-15-11
  19. ^ 'Don't ask, don't tell' ban on openly gay troops overturned, Senate passes bill 65-31, Dec 18,2010, Retrieved 2013-15-11
  20. ^ Katz, Yaakov (2012-12-06). "Does viral IDF Gay Pride photo show full picture?". Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  21. ^ "2012 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members" (PDF). Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office - USA. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  22. ^ Belkin, Aaron; McNichol, Jason (2010-09-10). "The Effects Of Including Gay And Lesbian Soldiers In The Australian Defence Forces: Appraising The Evidence". Palm Center White Paper. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  23. ^ Joshua Polchar et al., LGBT Military Personnel; A Strategic Vision for Inclusion (The Hague, the Netherlands: The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, 2014)
  24. ^ Elders et al, "Medical Aspects of Transgender Military Service" Armed Forces & Society (2014) vol. 41 no. 2 pp 199-220
  25. ^ Halloran, Liz (20 September 2011). "With Repeal Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' An Era Ends". National Public Radio. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services" (PDF). Department of Defense. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  27. ^ Harrison-Quintana, Jack; Jody L. Herman (2013). "Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Service Members and Veterans in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). LGBTQ Policy Journal 3. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Brydum, Sunnivie (1 August 2013). "Trans Americans Twice As Likely to Serve in Military, Study Reveals". The Advocate. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  29. ^ Srinivasan, Rajiv (November 11, 2013). "How to Really Honor Veterans: Extend Benefits to Transgender Vets". Time. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  30. ^ OPPEL Jr., Richard A. (2013-11-10). "Texas and 5 Other States Resist Processing Benefits for Gay Couples". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  31. ^ Dao, James (January 4, 2013). "How Defense Act Addresses Military Suicides and Issues of Conscience". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  32. ^ Grant, Jaime M. (2011-01-10). "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  33. ^ a b Rostker, Bernard D. (2010). "Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: An Update of RAND’s 1993 Study" (PDF). RAND Corporation. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  34. ^ a b Bateman, Geoffrey W.; Assistant Director for the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, University of California, Santa Barbara (2004-06-23). "Military Culture: European". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  35. ^ RAND Corporation report (1993). "Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment" (PDF). RAND Corporation, National Defense Research Institute. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  36. ^ Hansen, Hans Henrik (2010-01-20). "Seksuel orienteringsdiskriminering - et studie af seks homoseksuelle mænds oplevelser og erfaringer i det danske Forsvar". Nordic School of Public Health. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  37. ^ Geidner, Chirs (November 24, 2013). "After Repeal Of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," Pockets Of Difficulty For Equality". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  38. ^ a b c Moradi, Bonnie (2009). "Sexual Orientation Disclosure, Concealment, Harassment, and Military Cohesion: Perceptions of LGBT Military Veterans". Military Psychology 21 (4): 513–533.  
  39. ^ Croteau, J.M. (1996). "Research on the work experience of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people: An integrative review of methodology and findings". Journal of Vocational Behavior 48 (2): 195–209.  
  40. ^ Griffith, James (2002). "Multilevel analysis of cohesion's relation to stress, well-being, identification, disintegration, and perceived combat readiness". Military Psychology 14 (3): 217–239.  
  41. ^ Griffith, James; Mark Vaitkus (1999). "Relating cohesion to stress, strain, disintegration, and performance: An organizing framework". Military Psychology 11: 27–55.  
  42. ^ Sinclair, James; Venessa Tucker (2006). "Stress-CARE: An integrated model of individual differences in soldier performance under stress". Military life: the psychology of serving in peace and combat 1: 202–231. 
  43. ^ "Freedom to Serve: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Military Service" (PDF). OutServe SLDN. Service Members Legal Defense Network. July 27, 2011. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  44. ^ Cochran, Bryan; Kimberly Balsam; Annese Flentje; Carol A. Malte; Tracy Simpson (2013). "Mental Health Characteristics of Sexual Minority Veterans". Journal of Homosexuality 60 (1–2): 419–135.  
  45. ^ Flanagan, Jack (March 1, 2013). "Closeted gay soldiers more likely to attempt suicide". Gay Star News. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  46. ^ Swarns, Rachel (November 16, 2012). "Out of the Closet and Into a Uniform". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  47. ^ Frosch, Dan (June 29, 2013). "In Support Groups for Gay Military Members, Plenty of Asking and Telling". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  48. ^ Herek, Gregory (2006). "Sexual Orientation and Military Service: Prospects for Organizational and Individual Change in the United States" (PDF). UC Davis. 
  49. ^ [7]
  50. ^ "Lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women in the US military: Updated estimates" (PDF). The Williams Institute. 2010. 
  51. ^ [8], Gays in Foreign Militaries 2010: A Global Primer.
  52. ^ U.S. allies say integrating gays in military was nonissue, May 20, 2010, Retrieved 2013-15-11
  53. ^ Frank, Nathaniel. "How Gay Soldiers Serve Openly Around The World". NPR. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  54. ^ "Sexual Orientation and US Military Personnel Policy" (PDF). RAND Corporation. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  55. ^ "One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact on Military Readiness" (PDF). Palm Center. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  56. ^ """Readiness, Retention, Recruitment: Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell. House Republicans. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  57. ^ Belkin, Aaron. "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Is the Gay Ban Based on Military Necessity?" (PDF). Strategic Studies Institute. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  58. ^ a b Owens, Mackubin Thomas (2 February 2010). "The Case Against Gays in the Military". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  59. ^ Perkins, Tony (2010-06-01). "My Take: Ending 'don't ask, don't tell' would undermine religious liberty". CNN. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  60. ^ Amar, Paul (2011). "Turning the Gendered Politics of the Security State Inside Out?". International Feminist Journal of Politics 13 (3): 299–328.  
  61. ^ Gabbard, Sonnet (2012). "Amy Lind (ed.).". International Feminist Journal of Politics 14 (3): 442–444.  
  62. ^ "Albania Passes Gay Hate Crimes Law That Surpasses the U.S.". 
  63. ^ "Australia Ends a Prohibition On Homosexuals in Military", The New York Times, November 24, 1992
  64. ^ Suzanne B. Goldberg, 'Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies' Armed Forces," William & Mary Journal of Women & Law (2011) v 17 pp 547-90 online
  65. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Countries that Allow Military Service by Openly Gay People" (PDF). PalmCenter. June 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  66. ^ No Ban on Gays in The Bahamas Military GayToday - May 1998
  67. ^ Bahamas Military Allows Gays ILGA - June 2009
  68. ^ a b c Military Culture: Europe glbtq: An encyclopaedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture.
  69. ^ "Bermuda Regiment" (PDF). 
  70. ^ Strangeways, Sam (May 26, 2006). Bill's supporters stunned by defeat.  
  71. ^ (Portuguese) LGBT people and Military service
  72. ^ (Portuguese) Final feliz na caserna
  73. ^ Duffy, Gary (2008-06-05). "BBC: Gay soldier's fate grips Brazil". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  74. ^ Flavia Villela (2011-05-06). "Armed Forces will guarantee rights of gay couples, says Jobim". Agência Brasil. 
  75. ^ "Jobim says it will examine how the Supreme Court decision on gay couples affects the Armed Forces". POP. 2011-05-06. 
  76. ^ "Most Brazilians support LGBT people in the Armed Forces". Cena G. March 1, 2012. 
  77. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld - Bulgaria: Situation of homosexuals; protection available to victims of harassment or violence; organizations offering assistance or support to sexual minorities (March 2005 - August 2006)". Refworld. 
  78. ^ "Effects of the 1992 Lifting of Restrictions on Gay and Lesbian Service in the Canadian Forces: Appraising the Evidence". Palm Center. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  79. ^ Suzanne B. Goldberg, "Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies' Armed Forces," William & Mary Journal of Women & Law (2011) v 17 pp 547-90 online
  80. ^ a b Tattrie, Jon (20 August 2010). "Being Gay in the Military". Metro Ottawa.
  81. ^ "Chile Congress passes anti-discrimination law". Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  82. ^ "Gay rights group lauds efforts to make Chilean military more inclusive". 
  83. ^ "Chilean sailor makes history after announcing he is gay". 
  84. ^ "Sí A Homosexuales, Con Discreción" [Yes A Gay, With Discretion] (in Spanish). Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  85. ^ Konigsberg, Eric (November 1992). "Gays in arms: can gays in the military work? In countries around the world, they already do".  
  86. ^ Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Denmark. – a study of the experiences and perceptions of six homosexual men in the Danish Armed Forces Associated professor Ina Borup, NHV — Nordic School of Public Health, Jan 2010.
  87. ^ A.H.s.A.B. – Arbeitskreis homosexueller Angehöriger der Bundeswehr (Site is only in German)
  88. ^ a b c "Argentinien und die Philippinen beenden Homo-Verbot im Militär" [Argentina and the Philippines end the military gay ban] (in German). March 4, 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  89. ^ Cf. two orders of 2000: German Military Forces (Bundeswehr) (2000). "Anlage B 173 zu ZDv 14/3" (PDF) (in German). Working Group 'Homosexuals in the Bundeswehr'. Retrieved 24 December 2008.  ; and Inspector General of the German Military Forces (Bundeswehr) (2000). "Führungshilfe für Vorgesetzte – Sexualität" (PDF) (in German). Working Group 'Homosexuals in the Bundeswehr'. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  90. ^
  91. ^ ΝΟΜΟΣ 3421 [PREFECTURE 3421] (in Greek). Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  92. ^ a b
  93. ^ Cathal Kelly, International Secretary of the National Lesbian and Gay Foundation, which implements recent equality legislation in Ireland, says that the Employment Equality Act of 1998 applies to the Irish military.
  94. ^ The Irish Independent, May 1993
  95. ^ Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military, By JOHN M. SHALIKASHVILI, January 2, 2007.
  96. ^ a b Suzanne B. Goldberg, "Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies' Armed Forces," William & Mary Journal of Women & Law (2011) v 17 pp 547-90 online
  97. ^ a b Eichner, Itamar (2007-02-08). "Follow Israel's example on gays in the military, US study says". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  98. ^ The chief of staff's policy states that it is strictly forbidden to harm or hurt anyone's dignity or feeling based on their gender or sexual orientation in any way, including signs, slogans, pictures, poems, lectures, any means of guidance, propaganda, publishing, voicing, and utterance.
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  100. ^ Did Lifting the Gay Ban Undermine Military Performance? Palm Centre, Jun 04.
  101. ^ [10], "Does viral IDF Gay Pride photo show full picture?" By Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, June 12, 2012
  102. ^
  103. ^ AFM denies discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, The Malta Independent
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  106. ^ Estrada, Armando. Attitudes of Military Personnel Toward Homosexuals. Journal Of Homosexuality, 37(4), 83
  107. ^ Hassig and Oh (2009) The Hidden People of North Korea
  108. ^ Martin (2006) Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, p. 521
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  121. ^ Serbian news and information website,
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  126. ^ Swedish Armed Forces. "Our Core values". Försvarsmakten. 
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  149. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (February 13, 2011). "Ending 'don't ask, don't tell' doesn't end problems facing gay service members".  
  150. ^ "Navy set training for don't ask, don't tell repeal".  
  151. ^ Leo Shane III. "Repeal ends decades-long fight against DADT - News". Stripes. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
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  153. ^ "Military: Allowing Gays to Serve Works". Hispanic Business. 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
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  159. ^ Medellín, Jorge Alejandro (October 17, 2010). "Homosexualidad y Ejército" [Homosexuality and the Military]. M Semanal (in Spanish) ( 
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  161. ^ "Korea Upholds Antigay Military Law". 



See also

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.[161]

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.

South Korea

The Mexican Armed Forces' policy on sexual orientation is ambiguous, leaving homosexual 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 homosexual 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 homosexual soldiers were usually removed from service either through an encouraged withdrawal or dishonorable discharge.[159][160]


Countries with ambiguous policies

Countries that disallow homosexuals from serving in the military

Homosexuals 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.[154][155]


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

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.[153]

Pressure to overturn the ban continued to build throughout the 1990s and 2000s, as public opposition to gay rights waned. In December 2010, a Democratically controlled House and a Democratically controlled Senate passed and President Barack Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 which created a future pathway to allow homosexuals to serve in the military.[145] 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.[146][147][148] In early 2011, military leaders began issuing training plans for the expected repeal of the ban.[147][149][150] 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.[151][152]

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.

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, including the famed "Copy" Berg case, 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.

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.

A US Navy sailor kissing her fiancé, who is also a member of the Navy, after disembarking at the end of a deployment in December 2011

United States

All three of the United Kingdom's Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence Civil Service operate volunteer led LGBT Employee Networks, to provide support to LGBT personnel and LGBT focussed advice to their respective chains of command. Each network has a patron in the very highest echelons of the Armed Forces, the Army LGBT boasting Lieutenant General James Everard[144]

Since the ban all three Armed Services and the Ministry of Defence Civil Service have joined the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index,[142] an annual audit of LGB practices and lived experience. And by 2014 the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Ministry of Defence had all been a Top 100 LGB employer in at least one year.[143]

Current Situation

On 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.[132][140][141]

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."[138] The Royal Navy has conducted civil partnership ceremonies on ships and the British Army has held same-sex marriage celebrations in barracks.[139]

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.[136] 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 Richards said that respect for gays, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual officers and soldiers was now "a command responsibility" and was vital for "operational effectiveness".[137]

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 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.[135]

The MOD's policy since 12 January 2000 is to allow homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel to serve openly, and discrimination on a sexual orientation basis is forbidden.[88] 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.

Current policy

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."[96][134]

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;[131] 298 were dismissed in 1999, the year before the ban was lifted.[132] 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.[131][133]

United Kingdom

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.[129][130]


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."[128]

Taiwan repealed its ban on conscripting gay people into the military in 2002.[128] 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.


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.[88]

Swiss military officers participating at Europride 2009 in Zurich


Sweden allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65] The Swedish Armed Forces actively work for an environment where individuals do not feel it to be necessary to hide their sexual orientation.[126] 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.[127]


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.[125]


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",[124] and in 2006 same-sex marriage was legalised.

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."[123] 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.[124] The sodomy laws were struck down during the same year.

LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF),[65] and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited by the constitution, statute law and military policy.

South Africa

Slovenia allows individuals to serve openly without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation.[122]


Gay men required to attend National Service, but restricted to limited duties.


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.[121]


Before 1993, homosexual acts between consenting males were against the law in Russia,[117] and homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until adoption of ICD-10 in 1999,[118] 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.[119] 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.”[120] Thereby, as of July 1, 2003, homosexual people in Russia can serve in the military.


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."[116]


Portugal allows all citizens to serve openly in the military regardless of sexual orientation (as the constitution explicitly forbids any discrimination on that basis)[115]


Poland allows gays to serve openly in the military.[114]


The Philippine government has officially ended, as of 2010, the ban on gays in the military.[112] 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.[113]


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.[111] 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"


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.[110]

Norway allows homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces.[65][109] 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.


Military law mandates celibacy during the first 10 years of service for all enlistees.[107] Reportedly, male soldiers regularly break this rule, by engaging in casual heterosexual and homosexual affairs; these homosexual relationships have been described as situational sexual behavior rather than a sexual orientation.[108]

North Korea

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.

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[105][106]

New Zealand

In 1974, the Netherlands was the first country to ban discrimination against gays in the military.[104] The Dutch government considered homosexuality grounds for dismissal until 1974, when the Association of Dutch Homosexuals convinced the Minister of Defense 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 Defense.[68]


Malta allows people to serve openly in the armed forces regardless of their sexual orientation. 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".[103]


Luxembourg allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65]


Lithuania allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65]


Japan does not have any rules applying to homosexuals serving in the Self-Defense Forces.[102] 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.


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.


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.[101]

In a comprehensive review of interviews with all known experts on homosexuality in the IDF in 2004,[100] 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.

Homosexuals serve openly in the military, including special units, without any discrimination.[97][98] Moreover, homosexuals 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,[99] 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.”[97]

Israel Defense Forces policies allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly and without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation.[95] 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.[96]


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.[92]

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."

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.[94]

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

Homosexuals can serve openly in the Irish Defence Forces.[65][92] Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal.[93]

Republic of Ireland

While the Presidential Decree 133 (of 2002)[90] allowed people to avoid the draft for deep psycho-sexual problems, it did not ban homosexuals from the army. The newer 2005 law 3421[91] 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.


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.[89]

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.

The German [88]


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.[68]

  • 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.”

France allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65] However, the wording is quite peculiar. On 5 May 2000 The Independent stated:


Finland allows homosexuals to serve openly in the Finnish Defence Forces.[65]


Estonia allows homosexuals to serve openly in the Military of Estonia.[65]


Denmark allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65] 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.[85] A study of the conditions for gay men indicates that gay men in the Danish Armed Forces show strength and are respected.[86]


The Czech Republic allows homosexuals to serve openly.[65]

Czech Republic

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


In 1999 the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the prohibition of homosexuals from serving in the armed forces is unconstitutional.[84]


Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile's Movement for Integration and Homosexual Liberation, expressed his gratitude to the Chilean Navy. "(The Navy is) telling the country and the members of the institution particularly that it is possible for gays and lesbians to be part of the armed forces and that they aren't going to suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation within these institutions," Mr Jimenez said.

Few days later, a sailor in Chile became the first serving member of the Chilean armed forces to announce he is gay.[83] Mauricio Ruiz, 24, told a televised news conference his decision had "not been easy", but he wanted to help fight discrimination against homosexuals. Mr Ruiz said that what was most important was not a soldier's sexual orientation, but his or her willingness to serve the country. His announcement came with the full backing of the Chilean armed. Mauricio Ruiz said homosexuals had "no reason to hide". "We can do anything, be marines or in any branch (of the military). We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else," he told reporters in the Chilean capital, Santiago. "In life there's nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are."

On August 13, 2014, The Defense Ministry ordered the creation of a new committee to monitor inclusion and tackle discrimination in the armed forces, a move hailed as a “historic” step by gay rights campaigners. Marcos Robledo, defense undersecretary, announced the formation of a Diversity and Anti-Discrimination Committee with the aim to eradicate arbitrary discrimination in the military. The resolution, signed by Defense Minister Jorge Burgos, established the government as responsible for creating a more inclusive armed services.[82]

The Military of Chile does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. Chile bans all anti-gay discrimination since 2012.[81]


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[80]

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.”[80]

  • 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.

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".

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.[78][79]


Bulgaria's Protection Against Discrimination Act of 2006 protects individuals from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in relation to recruitment to the military.[77]


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.[76]

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.[74][75]

In 2008, during the 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.[73]

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.[72]

There is no law forbidding lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people 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 they heterosexual or homosexual.[71]


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 soldiers on the basis of sexual orientation;[69] such activities, however, are tolerated by officers, to the extent that one conscript described the Regiment as "the most homophobic environment that exists".[70]


Belgium permits homosexuals to serve openly in the Belgian Armed Forces.[65] 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.[68]


The Royal Bahamas Defence Force does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The government made the announcement in 1998.[66][67]


Austria permits homosexuals to serve openly in the Austrian Armed Forces.[65]


Australia has allowed homosexuals to serve openly since 1992.[63][64]

Uniformed Australian Defence Force personnel marching in the 2013 Sydney Mardi Gras


Under the old system, homosexuals 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 homosexuals 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, homosexuals who wish to train in the forces should encounter no impediment, nor any military retaliation areas.

As of 2009, the Argentine government has officially ended the ban on homosexuals in the Argentine Armed Forces. 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].


Gays and lesbians have been allowed to serve in the Military of Albania since 2008.[62]


Conceptions and categories of sexual orientation are not universal.[60][61] Language contained in the following entries, as much as possible, reflects local usage or official doctrine.

Countries that allow openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve


Owens further asserts that homosexuality may be incompatible with military service because it undermines the very ethos of a military, that is, one of nonsexual "friendship, comradeship or brotherly love."[58]

Military historian Mackubin Thomas Owens conjectured in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal that gay men and women would be partial to their lovers in the heat of battle. "Does a superior order his or her beloved into danger," Owens asks, "if he or she demonstrates favoritism, what is the consequence for unit morale and discipline? What happens when jealousy rears its head?" Owens echoes the fear that allowing gay soldiers would be deleterious to unit cohesion on the battlefield, arguing that concern for one's lover in a given unit could override any sense of loyalty to the unit as a whole, particularly in situations of life and death.[58]

In a line of work that regularly demands that personnel be in close living quarters, allowing openly homosexual servicemen is argued to flout a fundamental tenet of military service: ensuring that soldiers remain undistracted from their mission. If gay men are allowed to shower with their fellow male soldiers, so goes the argument, this would, in effect, violate the "unique conditions" of military life by putting sexually compatible partners in close proximity, with potentially adverse effects on retention and morale of troops.[56] Testimony advanced during the hearings on Don't Ask, Don't Tell of 1993, with US Senator Sam Nunn and General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. recalled "“instances where heterosexuals have been solicited to commit homosexual acts, and, even more traumatic emotionally, physically coerced to engage in such acts.”[57]

A recurrent argument for a ban on homosexuals in the military rests on the assumption that, in the face of potentially homosexual members of their unit, prospective recruits would shy away from military service. Based on an inconclusive study produced by the RAND Corporation in the run-up to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, American military recruits were expected to decrease by as much as 7%.[54] However, this does not appear to have materialized.[55]

The arguments against allowing openly gay servicemen and women in the military abound. While most research data have all but debunked traditional arguments in favor of policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, homosexuality is still perceived by most countries to be incompatible with military service.[53]

Arguments for not including openly LGBT people

In fact, several studies provide evidence that allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the armed forces can result in more positive work related outcomes. Firstly, discharging trained military personnel for their sexual orientation is costly and results in loss of talent. The total cost for such discharges in the U.S for violating the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy amounted to more than 290 million dollars.[50] Secondly, privacy for service members has actually increased in countries with inclusive policies and led to a decrease in harassment. Although, it is important to note that many gays and lesbians do not disclose their sexual orientation once the ban is repealed.[51] Finally, allowing gays to openly serve ends decades of discrimination in the military and can lead to a more highly-qualified pool of recruits. For instance, the British military reduced its unfilled position gap by more than half after allowing gays to openly serve.[52] Therefore, more evidence exists now to support policies that allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military.

Until recently, many countries banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. The reasons to enforce this ban included the potential negative impact on unit cohesion and privacy concerns. However, many studies commissioned to examine the effects on the military found that little evidence existed to support the discriminatory policy.[48] Moreover, when the bans were repealed in several countries including the UK, Canada, and Australia, no large scale issues arose as a result.[49]

Arguments for including openly LGBT people

Evidence suggests that for LGB service members in the United States, the conditions of service and daily life have improved dramatically following the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Soldiers who choose to come out experience feelings of liberation, and report that no longer having to hide their orientation allows them to focus on their jobs.[46] Support groups for LGB soldiers have also proliferated in the United States.[47]

In the United States LGBQ soldiers are not required to disclose their sexual orientation, suggesting that some LGBQ service members may continue to conceal their sexual orientation.[43] Studies suggest this could have harmful effects for the individual. A 2013 study conducted at the University of Montana found that non-open LGB US veterans face significantly higher rates of depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and alcohol or other substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. These veterans also reported facing significant challenges serving while concealing their sexual orientation; 69.3% of subjects in the study reported experiencing fear or anxiety as a result of concealing their sexual identity, and 60.5% reported that those experiences led to a more difficult time for the respondent than heterosexual colleagues. This study also concludes that 14.7% of LGB American veterans made serious attempts at suicide.[44] This race of suicide attempt compares to another study of the entire American veteran community that found .0003% of American veterans attempt suicide.[45]

Several academics have written on the effects on employees in non-military contexts concealing their sexual orientation in the workplace. Writers on military psychology have linked this work to the experiences of LGBQ military service personnel, asserting that these studies offer insights into the lives of open LGBQ soldiers and those who conceal their orientation.[38] Sexual orientation concealment and sexual orientation linked harassment are stressors for LGBT individuals that lead to negative experiences and deleterious job-related outcomes. Specifically, non-open LGBT persons are found to experience social isolation.[38][39] In particular these products of work related stress can affect military job performance, due to the high reliance on connection and support for the well-being of all service members.[38][40][41][42]

In the United States, despite policy changes allowing for open LGBQ military service and the provision of some benefits to same-sex military couples, cultures of homophobia and discrimination persist.[37]

Being LGBT in the military

On the contrary, Dutch military directly addressed the issue of enduring discrimination, by forming the Homosexuality and Armed Forces Foundation, a trade union that continues to represent gay and lesbian personnel to the ministry of defense, for a more tolerant military culture. Although homosexuals in the Dutch military rarely experience any explicitly aggressive acts against them, signs of homophobia and cultural insensitivity are still present.[34]

Fear of discrimination may prevent military service members to be open about their sexual orientation. In some cases, in Belgium, 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.[34] In 1993, a study showed that in Canada, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and Norway, the number of openly homosexual service members was small, representing only a minority of homosexuals actually serving. Serving openly may make their service less pleasant or impede their careers, even though there were no explicit limitations to serve. Thus service members who acknowledged their homosexuality were "appropriately" circumspect in their behavior while in military situations; ie.e they did not call attention to themselves.[35] Today, in the Danish army, LGBT military personnel refrain from being completely open about their homosexuality. Until training is completed and a solid employment is fixed they fear losing respect, authority and privileges, or in worse cases their job in the Danish army.[36] In 2010, the same updated study showed that in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy and United Kingdom, no special treatment to prevent discrimination was in place in those armies, the issue is not specifically addressed, it is left to the leadership discretion. Commanders told that sexual harassment of women by men poses a far greater threat to unit performance than anything related to sexual orientation.[33]

[33] On the contrary, in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom, as of 2010, when civil partnerships became legal in the respective countries, military family benefits followed the new laws, without discrimination.[32] Further, throughout the US army, transgender people are suffering from discrimination : they are prohibited from serving openly because of medical regulations that label them as mentally unstable.[31] Recent legal changes are claimed to revert practices to those before Don't Ask, Don't Tell's repeal: the US 2013 National Defense Authorization Act contains language some claim permit individuals to continue discriminating against LGB soldiers.[30] In the

This section will explore the question of legality versus practice: In some militaries where LGBT people are allowed to serve openly, there are continued practical limitations to their service or inequality of entitlement.

Discrimination faced by LGBT people in the military in militaries without explicit limitations or explicit welcoming

American transgender veterans face institutional hardships, including the provision of medical care while in the armed services and after discharge stemming from their gender identity or expression. Transgender veterans may also face additional challenges, such as facing a higher rate of homelessness and home foreclosure, higher rates of losing jobs often directly stemming from their trans identity, and high rates of not being hired for specific jobs because of their gender identity.[28][29]

While the US military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was rescinded in 2011 allowing open service by gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members, transgender people are still barred from entering the US Military.[25] This ban is effective via enlistment health screening regulations: "Current or history of psychosexual conditions (302), including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias."[26] Unlike Don't Ask, Don't Tell, this policy is not a law mandated by Congress, but an internal military policy. Despite this, studies suggest that the propensity of trans individuals to serve in the US military is as much as twice that as cisgender individuals. In the Harvard Kennedy School's 2013 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 20% of transgender respondents reported having served in the armed forces, compared with 10% of cisgender respondents.[27][28]

Like sexual orientation, policies regulating the service of transgender military personnel vary greatly by country. Based on data collected by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies[23] eighteen countries currently allow transgender people to serve in their military. They are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.[24]

Transgender military service

In the Australian army, the problem is not known officially, only few cases of harassment and discrimination involving gays and lesbians have been recorded. A researcher mentioned that "one would not want to be gay and in the military": Although there has been no major public scandal regarding harassment of gays, this does not mean that such behavior does not occur, but it has been under-studied. Generally, however, incidents of discrimination or harassment brought to the attention of commanders are handled appropriately, incidents in which peers who had made inappropriate remarks are disciplined by superiors promptly and without reservation.[22]

SAPRO, the organization responsible for the oversight of Department of Defense (DoD - USA) sexual assault policy, produces the “Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Member (WGRA)”: The 2012 report doesn’t have any paragraph studying the specific situation of LGBT people. The study focuses on men and women. The specificity of the violence faced by LGBT people is not considered.[21]

For instance, the Israeli Defense Force does not ask the sexual orientation of its soldiers, however half of the homosexual soldiers who serve in the IDF suffer from violence and homophobia. LGBT soldiers are often victims of verbal and physical violence and for the most part, commanders ignore the phenomenon.[20]

Physical, sexual, psychological (harassment, bullying) violence faced by LGBT is a fact of life for many LGBT identified persons. In an inherently violent environment, LGBT people may face violence unique to their community in the course of military service.

Violence faced by LGBT people in the military

The U.S. is one of the last more developed nations to overturn its ban on allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military when it repealed the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in 2010.[19]

Many countries have since revised these policies and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military (e.g. Israel in 1993 and the UK in 2000). There are currently 26 countries which allow gays and lesbians to serve and around 10 more countries that don't outwardly prohibit them from serving.[18]

The rationale for excluding gays and lesbians from serving in the military is often rooted in cultural norms and values and changed overtime. Originally, it was believed that gays were not physically able to serve effectively. The pervading argument during the 20th century focused more on military effectiveness. And finally, more recent justifications include the potential for conflict between heterosexual and homosexual servicemembers and possible “heterosexual resentment and hostility.”[17]

However, homosexual behavior has been considered a criminal offense according to civilian and military law in most countries throughout history. There are various accounts of trials and executions of members of the Knights Templar in the 14th Century and British sailors during the Napoleonic wars for homosexuality.[14] Official bans on gays serving in the military first surfaced in the early 20th century. The U.S. introduced a ban in a revision of the Articles of War of 1916 and the UK first prohibited homosexuality in the Army and Air Force Acts in 1955.[15] To regulate homosexuality in the U.S. military, physical exams and interviews were used to spot men with effeminate characteristics during recruitment. Many soldiers accused of homosexual behavior were discharged for being "sexual psychopaths", although, the number of discharges greatly decreased during war-time efforts.[16]

Throughout history, there have been several cultures which have looked favorably on homosexual behavior in the military. Perhaps the most well-known example is found in ancient Greece and Rome. Homosexual behavior was encouraged among soldiers because it was thought to increase unit cohesiveness, morale and bravery.[11] The Sacred Band of Thebes was a military unit from 378 BCE which consisted of male lovers who were known for their effectiveness in battle.[12] Same-sex love was also prevalent among the Samurai class in Japan and was practiced between an adult and a younger apprentice.[13]

History of sexual orientation in the military


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