8.04.2010

Queers in Canada's Military for 18 years!

This Friday, August, 6th marks the 18th year since Canada rescinded it's ban on LGBT in the military. The decision was made after a court case decided that the armed forces could no longer prevent homosexuals from serving in the military. The actual date of implementation was October 27, 1992, three and a half months after the Military accepted the court decision. see more at slap upside the head.

Currently 36 countries allow gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve and 22 of the of 26 NATO countries permit them to serve. The United States as most of you know, allows gays, lesbians and bisexuals to serve as long as they keep it secret and are celibate. Countries that ban open service for gays, lesbians and bisexuals include the USA, Cuba, China, Iran and North Korea. See more on Wiki here.

A study on the acceptance of LGBT members in the Canadian Military was published in April 2000 by Aaron Belkin and Jason McNichol. Belkin was the Director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara. McNichol was Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of ELM Research Associates, a non-partisan research firm in Berkeley when it was published.

The study found
* 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 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. Link to study results here
The reports conclusion is that allowing LGBT folks to openly serve did not undermine Canada's military or cohesion.

Given that the USA and Canada work so closely exchanging officers to facilitate understanding and working relationships, I wonder if an open queer Canadian was ever put in charge of and American military unit...

update: from National Defense Research Institute (U.S.), United States this report from 1993 - Sexual orientation and U.S. military personnel policy: options and assessment

page 77 deals with the Canadian experience shortly after discrimination was ended against queers.


2 comments:

The Tone said...

It just so happens that I was thumbing through a copy of a Stockwell Day bio (yes, I have one) and I noticed that he spoke out against homosexuals in the combat units of the Armed Forced back in 1986 when he was running for a provincial seat in Alberta (Red Deer North, I think it was). Thanks gawd we've moved beyond this debate! Though, I'd love to hear Stock argue this case now!

Rick Barnes said...

Abortion and gay rights are not sanctioned talking points for Harpers Candidates, still I expect one of them will have to speak out soon. I would love a reporter to call one of Harper's MP's and ask what they think of 18 years of Homos in the Military