The military as an institution, regardless of country, has traditionally been male-dominated. But since the 20th century, this institution has gradually opened its doors to women who have subsequently proven their mettle in battle, thus earning their place.
However, a new issue has arisen, this time it involves homosexuals or the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender community (LGBT) among the ranks. The presence of such people makes manly men feel uncomfortable to the point they will say they are unwilling to fight by their side when bullets start flying. They are stereotyped as being promiscuous towards the members of the same sex which many “conservatives” find abhorrent if not unnatural. Others find them unmanly, making them useless assets when it comes to combat. To an extent, such people are either banned from joining the military or anyone already in the military is dishonorably discharged.
Little do many know, LGBTs have been in the military for a long time. Though there are no written records, alternate documentary sources such as artwork, provides some evidence of homosexual relations. It is even said Alexander the Great may have had such relationships with his subordinates. Even the hero of Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson, was said to have homosexual relations with one of his men. It is said that his dying words were, “Kiss me, Hardy!” If there is anything gleaned here, LGBTs have been tolerated.
While many countries frown on LGBTs in the military, it is surprising that there are several countries whose armed forces tolerate them, especially those openly admit their orientation. This is true in several European countries like the Netherlands, a country known to be very liberal. It is no secret LGBTs are allowed to serve in the armed forces without fear of discrimination or persecution. Another country that tolerates such people is Israel known for having the best armed forces in the world in terms of quality despite being numerically inferior.
Even the United States, whose military culture has been conservative, has become very tolerant in LGBTs serving in the military. But the road here has not been easy and met with resistance. It has taken several legislations to finally ensure the freedom and rights of LGBTs to serve without fear of any discrimination whatsoever.
What about the Philippines?
This brings us now to the case of the Philippines. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is pretty much conservative in nature and as such, has little tolerance towards LGBTs, particularly those who are flamboyant (the likes of Vice Ganda). Their reasons for not tolerating LGBTs are the same as other countries. It can also be inferred LGBTs in the AFP have also been subject to discrimination and persecution as well.
But in recent years, the AFP has become open-minded and is keen on tolerating LGBTs among the ranks, thanks in part to constant lobbying by interest groups and politician-sponsors. The AFP leadership has taken notice of this and is willing to tolerate LGBTs provided they are expected to abide by the norms of the military and the regulations governing the AFP.
It can be said that the reason armed forces around the world are tolerating LGBTs is they wish to treat them as human beings; that they are still welcome provided they abide by the regulations laid down. Being homosexual does not and should not make one feel entitled enough to violate these regulations. As long as they abide, there will be no trouble. If they show acts of heroism in the battlefield, they shall also receive the honors due them; this is an indication they are still human beings and they also defend the life and freedom of everyone.
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