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Sexual orientation and military service

Sexual orientation and military service

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The military forces
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 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
Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment is illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and...

). Of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 permit gay people to serve openly.

Nations that permit gay people to serve openly in the military include the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan), Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and all NATO members excluding Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...



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


As of 2009, the Argentine government has officially ended the ban on gays 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].

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 , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 allows homosexuals to serve openly (since 1992, see LGBT rights in Australia). The Commonwealth of Australia policies are to permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly. Since 1 January 2009 same-sex couples have had the same access to military retirement pensions and superannuation as opposite-sex couples. Prior studies, eighteen in-depth interviews with informed military and non-military observers and other data have found that the lifting of the ban on gay service has not led to any identifiable negative effects on troop morale, combat effectiveness, recruitment and retention or other measures of military performance. Furthermore, available evidence suggests that policy changes associated with the lifting of the ban may have contributed to improvements in productivity and working environments for service members. Key findings include:
  • Senior officials, commanders, and military scholars within the Australian Defence Force
    Australian Defence Force
    The Australian Defence Force is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Australia. It consists of the Royal Australian Navy , Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force and a number of 'tri-service' units...

     (ADF) consistently appraise the lifting of the ban as a successful policy change that has contributed to greater equity and effective working relationships within the ranks. Prior to the lifting of the ban, ADF
    Australian Defence Force
    The Australian Defence Force is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Australia. It consists of the Royal Australian Navy , Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force and a number of 'tri-service' units...

     service chief argued that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would jeopardize recruitment, troop cohesion and combat effectiveness while also spreading AIDS
    Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

     and encouraging predatory behaviour.

  • While the lifting of the ban was not immediately followed by large numbers of personnel declaring their sexual-orientation, by the late 1990s significant numbers of officers and enlisted personnel had successfully and largely uneventfully come out to their peers. Recruitment and retention rates have not suffered as a result of the policy change. As Commodore R. W. Gates of the Royal Australian Navy
    Royal Australian Navy
    The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

     states in the report, “There was no great peak...where people walked out, and there was no great dip in recruiting. It really was a non-event.”

  • Self-identified gay soldiers, officers, and commanders describe good working relationships in an environment that emphasizes capable and competent job performance under uniform rules of conduct for all personnel. Gay soldiers and commanders have successfully served in recent active deployments in East Timor. Complaints regarding sexual orientation issues comprise less than 5% of the total complaints received by the ADF of incidents of sexual harassment, bullying, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Of 1,400 calls received by an anonymous “Advice Line” maintained by the ADF to help personnel and commanders manage potential misconduct issues since this service was initiated in August 1998, 17 (1.21 percent) have related to sexual orientation issues.

  • Current debates in Australia related to the policy change are now focused on extending equal benefits to the partners of gay servicemembers, rather than on the policy itself. To the degree that harassment issues continue to exist in the Australian Forces, most observers believe that problems faced by women soldiers are more serious than those faced by gay personnel.

The DEFGLIS (Defence Force Gay and Lesbian Information Service) is an unofficial organisation of Regular, Reserve and Civilian members of the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO) who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender (GLBIT) and allies.


The Royal Bahamas Defence Force
Royal Bahamas Defence Force
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is the navy of The Bahamas. Since The Bahamas does not have an army or an air force, its navy composes the entirety of its armed forces...

 does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The government made the announcement in 1998.


Belgium permits homosexuals to serve openly. 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.


The Military of Bermuda
Military of Bermuda
The defence of Bermuda remains the responsibility of the National Government, rather than of the Bermudian Government, which is effectively a local authority. Despite this, the Bermuda Government was historically responsible for maintaining Militia for the defence of the Colony...

 does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, as it is formed by random lottery-style conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. Officially, members of the Bermuda Regiment
Bermuda Regiment
The Bermuda Regiment is the home defence unit of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is a single territorial infantry battalion that was formed by the amalgamation in 1965 of two originally voluntary units, the all white Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and the mostly black Bermuda Militia...

 are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing gay soldiers; such activities, however, are tolerated by officers, to the extent that one conscript described the Regiment as "the most homophobic environment that exists".


As of 1992, lesbians, gays and bisexuals are allowed to openly serve 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.

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
    Unit cohesion
    Unit cohesion is a military concept, defined by one former United States Chief of staff in the early 1980s as "the bonding together of soldiers in such a way as to sustain their will and commitment to each other, the unit, and mission accomplishment, despite combat or mission stress"...

    , or discipline.
  • Self-identified gay, lesbian, and transsexual members of the Canadian Forces contacted for the study describe good working relationships with peers.
  • The percent 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
Metro International
Metro International is a Swedish media company based in Luxembourg that publishes the Metro newspapers. Metro International's advertising sales have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 41% since launch of the first newspaper edition in 1995. It is a freesheet, meaning that distribution is...

), 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.”

Republic of China

The Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan) repealed their ban on conscripting gay people into the military in 2002. 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 Attach 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."


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


Denmark allows homosexuals to serve openly. In fact, homosexuals have never been banned from serving in the Danish armed forces.

In 1981, discrimination against and harassment of gays in the Danish military were outlawed and are grounds for expulsion. As a result, 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.

A study of the conditions for gay men indicates that gay men in the Danish Armed Forces show strength and are respected. The thesis is presented in Hans Henrik Hansen's Master of Public Health-study at the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV). Despite the prevalence of discrimination based on sexual orientation, conditions are generally perceived as unproblematic.


Finland allows homosexuals to serve openly. However, conscripts that request so can be moved to service class B on basis of homosexuality, often shortening service time due to disqualification from leadership training (NCO
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

 and officer training).


France allows homosexuals to serve openly. France, like many European countries, legalises homosexual partnerships in a civil partnership, similar to Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. 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.


The German Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 ruled that it is forbidden to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The "Working Committee of Homosexual Employees in the Military Forces" 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.

The Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 maintained a "glass ceiling
Glass ceiling
In economics, the term glass ceiling refers to "the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements." Initially, the metaphor applied to barriers in the careers of women but...

" 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
Rudolf Scharping
Rudolf Scharping is a German politician .Scharping studied politics, sociology and law at the University of Bonn. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1966. He was Member of the Rhineland-Palatine Parliament from 1975 to 1994. From 21 May 1991 to 15 October 1994 he was prime minister of the...

. 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
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 and then Vice-Chancellor Joschka Fischer
Joschka Fischer
Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer is a German politician of the Alliance '90/The Greens. He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005...


Nowadays, 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.


While the Presidential Decree 133 (of 2002) allowed people to avoid the draft for deep psycho-sexual problems, it did not ban homosexuals from the army. The newer 2005 law 3421 has removed even the wording that could be misconstrued as offensive to homosexuals. In recent years, the Greek 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 serve openly in the Irish Defence Forces
Irish Defence Forces
The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal.

There has been no preclusion since 1993 when male homosexuality was decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. 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
Irish Independent
The Irish Independent is Ireland's largest-selling daily newspaper that is published in both compact and broadsheet formats. It is the flagship publication of Independent News & Media.-History:...

wrote that
The then Minister for Defence David Andrews stated in the Oireachtas
The Oireachtas , sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the "national parliament" or legislature of Ireland. The Oireachtas consists of:*The President of Ireland*The two Houses of the Oireachtas :**Dáil Éireann...

 (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 Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 policies allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly and without discrimination or harassment due to actual or perceived sexual orientation. This was put into effect in 1993 after an IDF reserves officer testified before the Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 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. 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
University of California, Santa Barbara
The University of California, Santa Barbara, commonly known as UCSB or UC Santa Barbara, is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. The main campus is located on a site in Goleta, California, from Santa Barbara and northwest of Los...

 study, a brigadier general stated that Israelis show a "great tolerance" for gay soldiers. Consul David Saranga
David Saranga
David Saranga is an Israeli diplomat and former Consul for Media and Public Affairs of Israel in the United States. Saranga was responsible for Israel’s image in the United States and was the liaison person of Israel to the American media...

 at the Israeli Consulate in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, 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.”

Uncloseted gays in the Jewish state are treated no differently than straights. Mandatory service draws every 18-year-old man and woman into the national service, with the exception of certain Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects.

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

Israel takes the position that gays in the closet (those who, for example, may have informed their superiors of their sexual orientation, but on a confidential basis) cannot get security-sensitive jobs while those who are out can work anywhere.


The Armed Forces of Italy
Military of Italy
The Italian armed forces are the military of Italy, they are under the command of the Italian Supreme Council of Defence, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic. The total number of active military personnel is 293,202...

 cannot deny men or women of homosexual orientation to serve within their ranks, as this would be a violation of Constitutional rights
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

. 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
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...



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".


In 1974, the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 was the first country to ban discrimination against gays in the military. An estimated 12,000 soldiers, 10% of the total force, are gay. 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. Nevertheless, gays could still legally be passed over for promotion simply because of their sexual orientation.

In 1986, Rene Holtel, then a major, was told by his commander that though he was an excellent officer, "he wouldn't want me to rise in rank because I was gay." Holtel went to his superiors and fought the camouflage ceiling, which was abolished in 1987, leading to the birth of the Foundation for Homosexuality in the Military, which Holtel, now elevated to lieutenant colonel, chairs.

The Dutch success stems from its effort to educate soldiers. Already required of officers and noncommissioned officers in the air force, and soon to be mandatory in the army and navy, is a four-day course known as Een Kwestie van Kijken, which roughly translates to "It's in the eye of the beholder." The seminar is designed to teach sensitivity toward minorities in the military, in particular women, blacks, and gays. Apparently it works. Rob Segaar, a 29-year-old veteran of the navy, summed up the Dutch attitude this way: "Suppose you're on the beach in a skimpy bathing suit. The guy next to you might be gay. Does that harm your morale? Is that dangerous?" Army doctors, priests, and psychiatrists will soon be required to complete coursework that will enable them to offer guidance to soldiers struggling with the decision to "come out." The Dutch department of defence recently published a booklet on homosexuality containing pictures of a lesbian couple embracing near a ship and a young man greeting his boyfriend in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after a stint in Lebanon.

The Netherlands is the most tolerant of homosexuality of the European militaries. It has integrated gays and lesbians more fully than any other country. Yet Dutch scholars and activists continue to call for even greater efforts to remedy the subtle problems that remain. Since the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, the Netherlands has been known for its general cultural tolerance of homosexuality, which has in turn influenced the military's policy on gays and lesbians. Marion Anderson-Boers and Jan van der Meulen report that since the 1980s the Dutch people have largely come to a consensus on the issue of homosexuality. They note that polls have repeatedly shown that more than 90 percent of the public agree with the statement, "Homosexuals should have as much freedom as possible to lead their own lives."

In the 1970s the Dutch military ceased to consider homosexuality a reason to prevent individuals from entering the military. This policy change coincided with larger legal changes in the Netherlands, which included changing age of consent laws for same-sex contact to 16, the same as for heterosexual contact, and incorporating an anti-discrimination clause addressing sexual orientation in the Dutch constitution. Yet officially allowing homosexuals to serve was only the first step in creating a more tolerant military culture. 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.

Although homosexuals in the Dutch military rarely experience any explicitly aggressive acts against them, they are troubled by subtle signs of homophobia and cultural insensitivity on the part of their heterosexual colleagues. Gay and lesbian military personnel are highly sensitive to these attitudes and typically respond by not expecting a high level of acceptance from their heterosexual colleagues, at least in terms of their sexual orientation. Even so, a high level of loyalty characterizes homosexual personnel in the Dutch military. Indeed, research suggests that, given the difficulties they face, "only the most highly motivated, loyal homosexuals will choose a career in the armed services and persist in it." In spite of the difficulties in fully integrating sexual minorities, the Dutch military continues to work to promote their inclusion. The Dutch military sees its duty as creating "the conditions under which all individuals can function fully." This acceptance of all types of people distinguishes the Dutch military from many other European militaries.

New Zealand

In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 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

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 "unnatural" 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.

As chief instructor of the joint services health school, Wood turns new recruits from army, navy and air force into "operationally deployable medics". "My staff relate to me as their major, their boss. I'm not their gay major, or their gay boss," he says. In his 30-year career with the army, Wood has attended conferences with officers from American services. The notable difference is that Wood can stand alongside his partner of seven years, Gerald Johnstone, and introduce him as such. "The reaction is quite interesting," Wood says. "It just feels so right to include your partner and I'm proud to come from a country that enables us to be who we are. Wood says he had "absolutely no issue" being an openly gay man in the army, which he puts down to the combination of having a strong personality, being articulate and the fact that he works in a specialist area. Being openly gay, Wood says he is sometimes approached by commanding officers wanting advice on how to react when a subordinate comes out or by newly enlisted people wondering about the best way to break their news to colleagues.


Norway has allowed homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces since 1979. Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, like most of Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, is very liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 in regards to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (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 that "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."


Until December 2009, Peru had a ban on openly gay people in the armed forces. However, in December 2009, the Supreme Court of Peru
Supreme Court of Peru
The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest judicial court in Peru. Its jurisdiction extends over the entire territory of the nation. It is headquartered in the Palace of Justice in Lima.The supreme court is composed of three Supreme Sectors:...

 held that sexual orientation cannot be a requirement for entry into the police force or the military. The Government accepted the decision. 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 Philippine government has officially ended, as of 2010, the ban on gays 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."


Before 1993, homosexual acts between consenting males were against the law in Russia, and homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until adoption of ICD-10
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision is a medical classification list for the coding of diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases, as maintained by the...

 in 1999, 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. 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.” Thereby, , homosexual people in Russia can serve in the military.


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.


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

South Africa

LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the South African National Defence Force
South African National Defence Force
The South African National Defence Force is the armed forces of South Africa. The military as it exists today was created in 1994, following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution...

 (SANDF). The Constitution of South Africa
Constitution of South Africa
The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the country of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the republic, sets out the rights and duties of its citizens, and defines the structure of the government. The current constitution, the country's fifth, was...

 adopted in 1997, and the Interim Constitution that preceded it in 1994, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 1996 the government adopted the White Paper on National Defence, which included the statement that, "[i]n accordance with the Constitution, the SANDF shall not discriminate against any of its members on the grounds of sexual orientation." In 1998 the Department of Defence adopted a Policy on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, under 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. In 2002 the SANDF extended spousal medical and pension benefits to "partners in a permanent life-partnership".


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.


Sweden allows homosexuals to serve openly. Homosexuals are not banned from military service. The Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Armed Forces is a Swedish Government Agency responsible for the operation of the armed forces of the Realm. The primary task of the agency is to train, organize and to deploy military forces, domestically and abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to defend the Realm in the...

 actively work for an environment where LGBT persons do not feel it to be necessary to hide their orientation.


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.


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.

Lifting the Ban

Until 2000, the British Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 (MOD) policy was to continue the long standing ban on homosexuals joining any of the Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

, 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. 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
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

, and a Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

 and naval rating
Naval rating
A Naval Rating is an enlisted member of a country's Navy, subordinate to Warrant Officers and Officers hence not conferred by commission or warrant...

, both males, dismissed from the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Their legal challenge was supported by the pressure groups Liberty
Liberty (pressure group)
Liberty is a pressure group based in the United Kingdom. Its formal name is the National Council for Civil Liberties . Founded in 1934 by Ronald Kidd and Sylvia Crowther-Smith , the group campaigns to protect civil liberties and promote human rights...

 and Stonewall
Stonewall (UK)
Stonewall is a lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity in the United Kingdom named after the Stonewall Inn of Stonewall riots fame. Now the largest gay equality organization not only in the UK but in Europe, it was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the...

. After losing the case at the Court of Appeal in London, they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 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
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

), the MOD subsequently lifted the ban, and began allowing gay people into the services from 2000 onwards. According to an opinion poll organised by Stonewall a week before the ruling, the ban had been opposed by 70% of Britons.

Today's Policy

The MOD's policy is now to allow homosexual men, lesbians and transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

 personnel to serve openly, and discrimination on a sexual orientation basis is forbidden. It is also forbidden for someone to pressure LGBT people to come out
Coming out
Coming out is a figure of speech for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people's disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity....

. All personnel are subject to the same rules against sexual harassment
Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment is illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and...

, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Since the military began allowing homosexuals to serve, none of its fears about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness have come to pass, according to the MOD, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a non-issue. The MOD deliberately does not compile figures on how many gay men and lesbians are openly serving, as it is not an issue, but does believe that the number of people who have come out publicly in the past seven years is still relatively low compared to the national norm. It is however clearly proud of how smoothly homosexuals have been integrated and is trying to make life easier for them.

The British military actively recruits gay men and lesbians, all three services have deployed recruiting teams to gay pride
Gay pride
LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity...

 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 a gay pride marches. British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 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.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by the gay advocacy group Stonewall in 2006, Vice Admiral Adrian Johns
Adrian Johns
Vice Admiral Sir Adrian James Johns KCB, CBE, KStJ, ADC is the current Governor of Gibraltar and a former senior officer in the Royal Navy. His most senior naval posting was as Second Sea Lord from 2005 to 2008.-Career:...

, the Second Sea Lord
Second Sea Lord
The Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command , commonly just known as the Second Sea Lord , is one of the most senior admirals of the British Royal Navy , and is responsible for personnel and naval shore establishments.-History:In 1805, for the first time, specific functions were...

, 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
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

 resigned but with little impact. Since the change support at the senior level has grown. General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff
Chief of the General Staff (United Kingdom)
Chief of the General Staff has been the title of the professional head of the British Army since 1964. The CGS is a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Board...

 (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".

Equality and diversity

The Royal Navy were the leaders in all aspects of early LGBT policy. The Royal Navy considers people as the heart of the Naval Service capability, the most important factor in delivering operational effectiveness. The Naval Service welcomes and appreciates differences in sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. The Naval Service’s commitment to Equality and Diversity extends beyond its legal responsibility to prevent unlawful discrimination.

The British Army requires all soldiers to undergo Equality and Diversity training as part of their Military Annual Training Tests and stress tolerance, specifically citing homosexual examples in training videos, in line with the British Army Core Values and Standards, including 'Respect for Others' and 'Appropriate Behaviour'. It considers its Core Values and standards as central to being a professional soldier.

The British Military immediately recognised civil partnerships and granted gay couples exactly 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." The Royal Navy has conducted civil partnership ceremonies on ships and the British Army has held same-sex marriage celebrations in barracks.

Ten Years On

In 2009, the tenth anniversary of the change of law that permitted homosexuality in the Armed Forces, it was generally accepted by all that the lifting of the ban had no perceivable impact on the operational effectiveness on a military that still considers itself world class. The anniversary was widely celebrated, including in the Army's in house publication Soldier Magazine, with a series of articles including the July 2009 Cover Story and articles in all the many national newspapers.

In 2010, following defeat of repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, the Colonel
British Army officer rank insignia
-Origins:The first British Army rank insignia were introduced in 1760. According to the Royal Clothing Warrant, General Officers were distinguished by the pattern and arrangement of laces on the cuff.Badges for field officers were first introduced in 1810...

 Mark Abraham, head of 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."

Proud2Serve is a support group that provides advice and support to serving and prospective members of the British Armed Forces.

United States

Homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 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.

Homosexuals were officially prohibited from serving in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 throughout its history. The first time "homosexual" people were differentiated from "normal" people 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
LGBT movements in the United States
LGBT movements in the United States comprise an interwoven history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social and political movements in the United States of America, beginning in the early 20th century...

 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
Liberalism in the United States
Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process...

 efforts seeking a repeal of the ban and socially conservative groups wishing to enshrine it into statute law.

A legislative policy was enacted in a 1993 bill signed by President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, under which homosexuals were prohibited from serving in the military and their discharge was required. However, investigation into a member's sexuality without suspicion was also prohibited. This policy, known as "Don't ask, don't tell
Don't ask, don't tell
"Don't ask, don't tell" was the official United States policy on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011. The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while...

," 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
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 promised at the start of his administration to overturn the policy and remove all military restrictions on sexual orientation. He signed a bill into law in December 2010 which creates a future pathway to allow homosexuals to serve in the military, and announced in his 2011 State of the Union
State Of The Union
"State Of The Union" is the debut single from British singer-songwriter David Ford. It had previously been featured as a demo on his official website, before appearing as a track on a CD entitled "Apology Demos EP," only on sale at live shows....

 address that he expects it to be complete by the end of the year. Under the terms of the bill, the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy remains in place until the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, the Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

 certify that repeal will not harm military readiness, followed by a 60 days waiting period. In early 2011 military leaders began issuing training plans for the expected repeal. A court order on July 6, 2011, required the Pentagon
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 to immediately suspend the policy, which the government complied with. The legislative repeal of the ban took effect on September 20, 2011.


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.

Countries that disallow homosexuals from serving in the military

  • Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

  • Bangladesh
    LGBT rights in Bangladesh
    LGBT human rights are not respected in Bangladesh, and there appears to be no organized movement to advance such human rights. And such acts of homosexuality will lead to life in prison, or even face the death penalty.-Constitutional & Criminal Code:...

  • Barbados
    LGBT rights in Barbados
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Barbados face legal risks not experienced by non-LGBT citizens. Homosexual acts are illegal in Barbados, with a life sentence; but the law is rarely enforced. The law is currently in effect, but under review. Recent polls conducted by Caribbean...

  • Belarus
  • Belize
    LGBT rights in Belize
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Belize face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT citizens. Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Belize, with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment...

  • Botswana
    LGBT rights in Botswana
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Botswana face legal issues not experienced by non-LGBT citizens. Both female and male same-sex sexual acts are illegal in Botswana.-Laws regarding same-sex sexual acts:...

  • Brunei
    LGBT rights in Brunei
    Homosexuality is illegal in Brunei and can be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of 30,000 Brunei dollars.-See also:*LGBT rights in Asia*Homosexuality laws of the world...

  • Cameroon
  • Cuba
    LGBT rights in Cuba
    Private, non-commercial sexual relations between same-sex consenting adult 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since 1979, although same-sex relationships are not presently recognized by the state as a possible marriage. Despite elements of homophobia in Cuba's history, Havana now has a lively and...

  • Cyprus
  • Dominica
    LGBT rights in Dominica
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Dominica face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Dominica....

  • Egypt
  • Fiji
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
    LGBT rights in Grenada
    - LGBT Rights :Male on male homosexuality is illegal in Grenada. Under the Grenada Criminal Code, CAP. 76, 1958 Revised Edition, Section 435 the offence of “unnatural crime” is committed by way of sexual intercourse per anum, i.e., anal penetration. Such offence is punishable by imprisonment for...

  • Guyana
    LGBT rights in Guyana
    According to the penal code of Guyana, "gross indecency" committed by a man upon another man, either in public or private, will be punished with imprisonment for up to 2 years. For attempted anal sex the punishment is 10 years, and for anal sex, imprisonment for life is possible...

  • Iran
    LGBT rights in Iran
    LGBT rights in Iran since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 have come in conflict with the penal code, with international human rights groups claiming floggings and death sentences of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. Transsexuality in Iran is legal if accompanied by a sex change operation;...

  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
    LGBT rights in Kiribati
    Homosexual acts are illegal in Kiribati. The Penal Code sections 153, 154 and 155 outlaws anal intercourse regardless of sex.Unnatural Offences153. Any person who- commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or...

  • Jamaica
    LGBT rights in Jamaica
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights in Jamaica are dominated by the prohibition of sexual acts between men. Sexual acts between women are legal, by virtue of the absence of any reference to them in law...

  • Lesotho
    LGBT rights in Lesotho
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Lesotho face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Lesotho, but female same-sex sexual activity is legal....

  • Malawi
    LGBT rights in Malawi
    Homosexual acts are illegal in Malawi. Section 153 prohibits "unnatural offences". Section 156 concerning "public decency" is used to punish homosexual acts...

  • Malaysia
    LGBT rights in Malaysia
    LGBT rights are not recognized in Malaysia. The nation retains its colonial era penal code criminalizing sodomy. Social attitudes towards the LGBT community are also shaped by Islam, the official religion in Malaysia.-Criminal Code:...

  • Maldives
  • Mozambique
    LGBT rights in Mozambique
    The legal status of same-sex sexual activity is ambiguous in Mozambique. There are no explicit laws against homosexual sex, and on March 2011, the Minister of Justice declared during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review that homosexuality is not an offence in Mozambique. However,...

  • Namibia
    LGBT rights in Namibia
    Namibia has had a troubled history in regards to the protection of the rights and civil liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. Sodomy is illegal in Namibia, and is punishable with prison time...

  • Nauru
    LGBT rights in Nauru
    Gay and bisexual people living in the island nation Nauru face certain unique legal and social challenges. Male-male homosexual acts remain illegal and there is no legal recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits...

  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Pakistan
    LGBT rights in Pakistan
    Traditional religious norms and cultural beliefs view homosexuality and cross-dressing negatively and this homophobic societal attitude contributes to intolerant social behavior as well as refusal of the government, or most political groups...

  • Papua New Guinea
    LGBT rights in Papua New Guinea
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Papua New Guinea face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Male homosexuality is prohibited according to section 210 of the Papua New Guinea penal code. Those caught engaging in anal sex can get punished with up to 14 years...

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Seychelles
    LGBT rights in Seychelles
    Male homosexuality is currently illegal in the Seychelles, while female homosexuality is legally permissible and decriminalisation is proposed.- Recognition of same-sex relationships :...

  • Sierra Leone
    LGBT rights in Sierra Leone
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Sierra Leone face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Sierra Leone.-Law regarding same-sex sexual activity:...

  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
    LGBT rights in Sri Lanka
    Homosexuality is illegal under a broad provision dealing with, "gross indecency", and no national legislation exists to protect LGBT people from harassment or discrimination...

  • St. Kitts and Nevis
    LGBT rights in Saint Kitts and Nevis
    - LGBT Rights :Male on male homosexuality is illegal in St. Kitts and Nevis. Section 56 and 57 of the "Offences Against the Person Act" criminalises male on male same-sex sexual activity. However female to female sexual realtionships are legal. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis says it has no...

  • St. Lucia
    LGBT rights in Saint Lucia
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Saint Lucia face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT persons. Homosexuality is illegal for males in Saint Lucia, though female homosexual acts are not mentioned. Saint Lucia was also the only UN member in the Americas to formally oppose...

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    LGBT rights in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    - LGBT Rights :Homosexuality is illegal in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Section 148 of the Criminal Code states that "Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex...

  • Swaziland
    LGBT rights in Swaziland
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Swaziland face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.-Laws regarding same-sex sexual acts:...

  • Syria
  • Tanzania
    LGBT rights in Tanzania
    Homosexuality in Tanzania is socially a taboo topic and same-sex sexual acts are punished by the state.According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, an overwhelming majority of 95% of Tanzanian residents said that homosexuality should be rejected by society, making it among the highest...

  • Tonga
    LGBT rights in Tonga
    - LGBT Rights :Male on male homosexuality is illegal Tonga with a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment, A person may also be whipped as a punishment if convicted. Homosexuality is generally accepted in Tonga. The Tongan Criminal Offences Act criminilises homosexuality.- The Criminal Offences...

  • Trinidad and Tobago
    LGBT rights in Trinidad and Tobago
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Trinidad and Tobago may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago...

  • Turkey (see note)
  • Tuvalu
    LGBT rights in Tuvalu
    Male on male sex is illegal in Tuvalu. The Penal Code sections 153, 154 and 155 outlaws homosexual intercourse. There are no LGBT recognitions or rights in Tuvalu.-153 Unnatural offences:Any person who — commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or...

  • Uganda
    LGBT rights in Uganda
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender persons in Uganda have virtually no orientation-related protections at all. Both male and female homosexual activity is illegal...

  • Vanuatu
    LGBT rights in Vanuatu
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Vanuatu may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.-Law regarding same-sex sexual...

  • Venezuela
  • Yemen
    LGBT rights in Yemen
    Homosexuality is still illegal in Yemen in accordance to the country's Shari'ah legal system. Punishment ranges from flogging to death. Yemen is one of only seven countries to apply a death penalty for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex....

  • Zambia
    LGBT rights in Zambia
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Zambia face legal challenges not faced by non-LGBT citizens. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for both males and females in Zambia....

  • Zimbabwe


The Mexican Armed Forces
Mexican Armed Forces
The Mexican Armed Forces are composed of the Mexican Army which includes the Mexican Air Force as a subordinate entity and the Mexican Navy which also includes the Mexican Naval Infantry and Naval Aviation...

' 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.


Officially, homosexuals are banned from military service in Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. However, it is not regularly applied in practice. Only military hospitals decide whether the person is homosexual by giving "Physico-sexual disorder" diagnosis. A person must prove his sexual orientation with explicit evidence showing he is involving in a sex act.

Palm Center Research on Gay Military Service

The Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, produces scholarship designed to improve the quality of public dialogue about critical and controversial public policy issues. Since 1998, the Center has commissioned and disseminated research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. The Centre's research has shown that transitions to policies of equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation have been successful and have had no negative impact on morale, recruitment, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness.

Two main factors contributed to the success of transitions to openly gay service:
  • Clear signals of leadership support and a focus on a uniform code of behavior without regard to sexual orientation.
  • Simple training guidelines that communicate the support of leadership, that explain the uniform standards for conduct, and that avoid “sensitivity” training, which can backfire by causing resentment in the ranks.


  • Shilts, Randy (1994/1997/2005). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military
    Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military
    Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf War was a non-fiction book by Randy Shilts , published in 1993 shortly before Shilts' 1994 death....

    . ISBN 5-551-97352-2 / ISBN 0-312-34264-0.

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