Showing posts with label Army. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Army. Show all posts

September 8, 2012

Chile’s Army Apologized For Instructing Recruiters not to Admit Gays

Gen Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba in August 2012 (file image from Army of Chile website)
 
                    Gen Fuente-Alba said discrimination would not be not tolerated in the Chilean army
 

Chile's army head has apologised for a directive instructing military recruiters not to admit homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses.
"I offer my sincere apology to any person who may have felt affected by the unfortunate expressions," Gen Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba said.
A local TV channel had revealed the document, signed by a senior general.
However, Chilean gay groups have rejected the army's apology, saying it is not enough.
Gen Fuente-Alba said he made it clear there should be no discrimination.
He had ordered a full review of military documents to eliminate any such guidance, he added.
The Chilean government also rejected the army directive. Defence minister Andres Allamand said it contradicted government and army policy against discrimination and should be disregarded immediately.
Mr Allamand ordered the armed forces to immediately comply with the laws against discrimination.
Dismissal calls
On Thursday, Chile's Channel 13 TV revealed an internal army document signed by a senior general, Christian Chateau, which asked recruiters to do their utmost to find soldiers "morally and intellectually" prepared for military service.
The document stated that people with mental, socio-economic problems or criminal behaviour, as well as homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses, should be excluded from the army.
General Chateau said the instruction was meant as a guide for recruiters.
Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh (Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation) told the Spanish news agency Efe that Gen Chateau should be sacked.
"It is not possible that a general issued such judgements," he said.
"Eliminating discriminatory rules is not enough. We need a cultural shift in the army to promote non-discrimination. Sanctions must be imposed against those who discriminate."

BBC

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March 26, 2012

Proving You Are Gay-Easy?- Not In The Turkish Army

turkish soldier
 BBC World Service
  
 Military service is mandatory for all Turkish men - they can only escape it if they are ill, disabled or homosexual. But proving homosexuality is a humiliating ordeal.
''They asked me when I first had anal intercourse, oral sex, what sort of toys I played with as a child..."
Ahmet, a young man in his 20s, told officials he was gay at the first opportunity after he was called up, as he and other conscripts underwent a health check.
"They asked me if I liked football, whether I wore woman's clothes or used woman's perfume," he says.
''I had a few days' beard and I am a masculine guy - they told me I didn't look like a normal gay man.''
He was then asked to provide a picture of himself dressed as a woman.

 ''I refused this request,'' he says. ''But I made them another offer, which they accepted.'' Instead he gave them a photograph of himself kissing another man. Ahmet hopes this will give him what he needs - a "pink certificate", which will declare him homosexual and therefore exempt from military service. Over the years, gay life has been becoming more visible in Turkey's big cities. Cafes and clubs with an openly gay clientele have been opening in Istanbul, and last summer's gay pride march - unique in the Muslim world - was the largest ever.
But while there are no specific laws against homosexuality in Turkey, openly gay men are not welcome in the army. At the same time, they have to "prove" their homosexuality in order to avoid military service.

Gokhan, conscripted in the late 1990s, very quickly realised that he was not made for the army.
''I had a fear of guns,'' he reminisces.
 As a gay man he was also afraid of being bullied, and after little more than a week he plucked up the courage to declare his sexual orientation to his commander. ''They asked me if I had any photographs.'' Gokhan says, ''And I did.’’ He had gone prepared with explicit photographs of himself having sexual intercourse with another man, having heard that it would be impossible to get out of military service without them.

''The face must be visible,'' says Gokhan. ''And the photos must show you as the passive partner.''
The photographs satisfied the military doctors. Gokhan was handed his pink certificate and exempted from military service. But it was a terrible experience, he says,
''And it's still terrible. Because somebody holds those photographs. They can show them at my village, to my parents, my relatives.''

 The army denies that it keeps the photographs, but gay men say photographic evidence of one kind or another is still demanded, the precise nature depending on the whim of the commander.
The Turkish army refused BBC requests for an interview, but a retired general, Armagan Kuloglu, agreed to comment.
Openly gay men in the army would cause "disciplinary problems", he says, and would be impractical creating the need for "separate facilities, separate dormitories, showers, training areas".
He says that if a gay man keeps his sexuality secret, he can serve - an echo of the US military's recently dropped Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.
"But when someone comes out and says he is gay, then the army needs to make sure that he is truly gay, and not simply lying to evade his mandatory duty to serve in the military.''

 The social stigma associated with homosexuality in Turkey is such that outside the young and urbanised circles in big cities like Istanbul and Ankara, it is hard to imagine a man declaring that he's gay when he's not. 
However, the possibility causes the military a lot of anxiety.
"Doctors are coming under immense pressure from their commanders to diagnose homosexuality, and they obey, even though there really are no diagnostic tools to determine sexual orientation,'' says one psychiatrist who formerly worked at a military hospital.
''It is medically impossible, and not at all ethical."
On Gokhan's pink certificate, his status reads: ''psychosexual disorder''. And next to that, in brackets, ''homosexuality’’.

Turkey's military hospitals still define homosexuality as an illness, taking a 1968 version of a document by the American Psychiatric Association as their guide. 
Some people in Turkey say with resentment that gay men are actually lucky, as at least they have one possible route out of military service - they don't have to spend months in the barracks, or face the possibility of being deployed to fight against Kurdish militants.
But for openly gay men, life can be far from easy.
It is not uncommon for employers in Turkey to question job applicants about their military service - and a pink certificate can mean a job rejection.
One of Gokhan's employers found out about it not by asking Gokhan himself but by asking the army.
After that, he says, he was bullied. His co-workers made derogatory comments as he walked past, others refused to talk to him.

''But I am not ashamed. It is not my shame," he says.
Ahmet is still waiting for his case to be resolved. The army has postponed its decision on his pink certificate for another year.
Ahmet thinks it is because he refused to appear before them in woman's clothes. And he doesn't know what to expect when he appears in front of them again.
Could he not just do his military service and keep his homosexuality a secret? ''No,'' says Ahmet, firmly.
''I am against the whole military system. If I have to fulfil a duty for this nation, they should give me a non-military choice.’’

Some names have been changed to protect the identity of interviewees. Emre Azizlerli's documentary The Pink Certificate will be broadcast onBBC World Service on 26 March 2011. 

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