Don't ask, don't tell: How do other countries treat gay soldiers?
Don't ask, don't tell doesn't fly with NATO members, except Turkey and the US. NATO nations now allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. But 53 nations, including North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and Syria, ban homosexuals from military service.
The US Congress appears poised to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. That would take the US off the same list as Iran and North Korea, countries that also bar homosexuals from fighting for their country.Skip to next paragraph
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“Is that where we as a country want to be? I think not,” says Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which is lobbying for a repeal to the "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) ban.
More than 25 countries specifically allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military, including all original NATO signatories except the US and Turkey.
Some 16 countries – including Pakistan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen – bar open homosexuals from serving in the military. Across Africa, 37 countries declare homosexuality outright illegal – inside the military or out. Last week, two civilian men in Malawi were convicted and sentenced to serve 14 years in prison for homosexuality.
In the US, more than 13,000 American service members have been discharged under DADT, which was implemented in 1993.
The ban continues despite numerous studies over the past two decades that have shown no negative impact from allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military.
According to a February report (pdf download) from the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, allowing homosexuals to serve contributes to improving the command climate in foreign militaries, decreasing harassment, retaining critical personnel, and enhancing respect for privacy.
US military leaders say they're aware of precedent in other countries. Adm. Mike Mullen, during a Congressional hearing on Feb. 2, 2010, said he had spoken to his counterparts in countries that lifted the bans and they told him there had been “no impact on military effectiveness” as a result, and that he was aware of no studies showing that ending DADT would harm unit cohesion.