Military asked to open doors to gays, lesbians

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    CLARK FREEPORT – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales seemingly shocked some 200 air force personnel here by suggesting in her speech that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should now open its doors to gays and lesbians.

    “Do you accept gays now?” she asked the soldiers, including generals and new recruits who finished here yesterday a seminar on human rights advocacy. She was the guest speaker for the closing rites.

    As her question triggered murmurs and giggles from her audience, Rosales continued: “Secret? Meaning there are gays in your ranks.”

    “Ang mga bading at lesbians ay mayron ding karapatang pantao (Gays and lesbians also have human rights,” she said, adding that accepting them into the military is a way of respecting such rights.

    In an interview with Punto after her speech, Rosales said she was serious about her proposal for the AFP to now open its doors to gay and lesbian recruits, although she admitted that in her younger days, she had prejudice against the so-called third sex.

    Rosales noted that gays and lesbians are capable of doing anything their heterosexual counterparts in the military normally do.

    PAF human rights officer Col. Joven Ronan said, however, that the Philippine military does not yet seem prepared for Rosales’s proposal, although he noted that the military has no explicit policy against gays and lesbians.

    “The most sexual requirement in admission is the filling up of the blanks that asks for one’s sex,” he noted.

    A PAF brigadier general who asked not to be named admitted before Rosales during the interview that there are indeed gays in the military.

    “They do their jobs like men, but casually, they become effeminate,” he noted.

    The general said that apart from teasing, known gays in the military are otherwise tolerated.

    In the United States last month, Pentagon officials announced the U.S. military would begin training forces in February on the new law that allows gays to serve openly.

    In the first briefing since Congress repealed the 17-year-old “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, Pentagon officials said they will soon complete implementation plans but assured that the “service chiefs will have the leeway to bring up potential complications as they arise.”

    US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had directed his policy staff in a memorandum to move ahead carefully — but expeditiously — to end the policy instituted during the Clinton administration.

    US Army Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined a plan that gives the US military services roughly three months to train their forces on the new law that allows gays to serve openly in the military.

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