The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community is constantly striving for equality in all areas of life, including the workplace. Many militaries have been known to exclude people who fell under the LGBT umbrella term, with a lot of countries still banning homosexuals and bisexuals. The recent controversy in the media around the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy of the US military has brought the spotlight on sexual discrimination among nations' armed forces. According to the U.S. policies, LGBT people were allowed to join the military - as long as they were not open about their sexuality.
The DADT policy was repealed in 2010 (effective 2011), but not before over 13,600 troops had been discharged because of the legislation. LGB people can now serve openly in the US armed forces (though the transgender population are still barred). The US does not have a glass ceiling for LGB personnel; for example, lesbian officer Tammy Smith became a Brigadier General in the US Army Reserve in 2012. However, the legacy of the DADT policy is still felt; in terms of military inclusion of sexual minorities, the USA doesn't manage to make the top 10, coming in at a rather shameful 40th place, sandwiched between Malta and Poland.
The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) is a relatively young think tank, founded in 2007 and based in the Netherlands. Experienced researchers and analysts get together to study policies and the media to discern certain strategic data based on their findings. The HCSS has recently been recognized for their creation of an LGBT Military Index in which they ranked over 100 countries by the inclusiveness of their military. By comparing subjects such as inclusion, admission, tolerance, exclusion and persecution the HCSS managed to score national militaries' openness to sexual minorities and inclusiveness from zero to 100. The US scored 72.8 (mean 56.3), well above China (41.5), India (34.0) and Russia (32.5). The worst-scoring country included was Nigeria at 3.0 with Turkey being the lowest-scoring country in the region of Europe, at 30.5.
The political map of scores is revealing. Countries in Africa and Asia generally score the lowest (with the exceptions of South Africa at 88.3, Japan at 78.5 and the country at eighth place on the list). This demonstrates that LGBT inclusion and tolerance can be linked to a country's social and economic development. Here, we're having a look at the 10 countries with the greatest degree of inclusion and the factors that contribute to this success.
10 Germany: 90.8 LGBT MI
9 Spain and France: 91.8 LGBT MI
8 Israel: 92.0 LGBT MI
7 Belgium: 93.0 LGBT MI
6 Denmark: 93.5 LGBT MI
5 Canada: 94.3 LGBT MI
4 Australia: 95.0 LGBT MI
3 Sweden: 97.5 LGBT MI
2 UK and Netherlands: 98.0 LGBT MI
It is no real surprise to see the Netherlands so high up on this list, as their liberal nature is world-famous. The Netherlands was the first country to allow gay military members (in 1974) and was the centre of a controversy when former US general John Sheehan accused the Dutch of allowing the 1995 Srebrenica massacre because of homosexual soldiers making their force weaker. Sheehan later apologized and withdrew his comments.
1 New Zealand: 100 LGBT MI
New Zealand wields a perfect score of 100 on the HCSS LGBT Military Index. There are support networks in place for LGBT members of New Zealand's military, which has allowed gay applicants since 1993. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) created a video called It Gets Better, especially aimed at its members who were struggling to be open about their sexuality. Commanders in New Zealand's military have gone on record stating their pride in the country's LGBT inclusion policies and promising to continue the NZDF's commitment to being an equal opportunities employer.
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