NZ military most tolerant to gay soldiers

  • 20/02/2014

New Zealand has topped a new global index ranking armed forces for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender soldiers.

The LGBT Military Index assesses admittance, tolerance, exclusion or persecution of homosexuals to measure 103 armies worldwide, the Hague-based Centre for Strategic Studies think-tank said.

New Zealand topped the index and the Netherlands and UK ranked joint second. Sweden was fourth and Australia fifth.

The US, at 40th, ranked below Romania. Nigeria came last in the survey.

The think-tank noted that New Zealand had produced a video for the "It Gets Better" project, which reached out to young people struggling with their sexuality.

In the video, introduced by then Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, nine defence force members spoke of being scared to tell their friends and family about their sexuality.

"I was gay, and that was how it was, and it wasn't going to change for me," says a corporal.

"Could I just live with a girl anyway, and still have the kids and the dog and the white picket fence?" says a flight lieutenant.

The video ends with each member saying things get better.

At the start of the video, the NZ Defence Force says it is proud to be an organisation that accepts its LGBT staff.

Uniformed members of the Defence Force have also marched in the Auckland Pride Parade, and in 2012 the NZ Defence Force created OverWatch, a group to support its gay staff.

Accepting homosexuals in the military "is not so much just a matter of human rights," Dutch army colonel Dirk Jan Broks told AFP.

"It's also about work quality. If a person is gay and not having to hide it they can concentrate on other things without worrying about being discriminated against," he said.

In 2011 US President Barack Obama repealed a controversial policy which forced gay soldiers to hide their sexuality.

NZN

source: newshub archive