Survey findings: Gender and sexuality

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Of the thirty-two countries surveyed, there is only an active attempt to recruit LGBT people in four. Eight countries don’t allow LGBT people to enlist at all, although of those, Kenya is the only one where homosexuality is actually illegal. In Turkey men can be exempted from military service if they can 'prove' (including by providing photos or video footage of them having sex with men) that they are homosexual. But in the majority of countries, sexuality is simply not a recruitment criterion.

The widely-promoted values that the military is believed to imbue are invariably related to ideals of gender. In Finland, Russia, and Switzerland it is emphasised that military service makes you become a man; in France you are said to become yourself. In Spain, equality for women is stressed. India is the only country where there is no active attempt to enlist women. However, in India, like in the UK, although women can not officially be in front-line combat positions, they can still engage in combat.

In eleven countries the enlistment of both women and LGBT is presented as part of the 'morality' of the military by promoting equal opportunities: in ten only the enlistment of women is presented in this positive way, and in the remaining eleven this argument is not used at all.

Israel, Sweden, Colombia and the US are the only countries in which women and LGBT enlistment is both allowed (including combat), promoted specifically, and used as a public relations tool of the army’s moral standards. It is interesting to see how this is used differently and for different social and political reasons in each of these countries, when in Colombia the enlistment of LGBT is often seen as a way to 'make them normal', whereas in the US the decision was part of a lengthy internal political debate, and in Sweden and Israel the enlistment of both women and LGBT is emphasised as a moral standard as opposed to the societies these countries are involved in combat with (in Sweden versus the Afghan oppression of women, and in Israel versus conservative-Islamic values in general).

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