Unfriendly Fire Research Portal

List of Foreign Militaries that Allow Openly Gay Service*

Note: Several countries, particularly in Asia, are difficult to codify since they do not have a formal policy governing gay service, often not acknowledging their existence at all. We have taken a conservative approach to listing nations that allow openly gay service, including only those nations that we could confirm allow openly gay service without formal restrictions. For this reason, our list may be smaller than others.

* This list appears in the Appendix of the Palm Center’s “Gays in Foreign Militaries 2010: A Global Primer.”

  1. Australia
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Canada
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Denmark
  7. Estonia
  8. Finland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Ireland
  12. Israel
  13. Italy
  14. Lithuania
  15. Luxembourg
  16. Netherlands
  17. New Zealand
  18. Norway
  19. Slovenia
  20. South Africa
  21. Spain
  22. Sweden
  23. Switzerland
  24. United Kingdom
  25. Uruguay

Documentation on Contested Cases

Czech Republic: Homosexuality is not considered a liability for enlistment. All citizens are required to serve, regardless of sexual orientation.  Act No. l 218/1999 Coll. (Military Act) stipulates military service "for all citizens of the Czech Republic, regardless of sexual orientation."  In an email from PhDr. J. Vereov of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Defense, he writes, "In general these issues fall in the competence of psychological personnel appointed at individual units. There is a special facility available - the ACR Open Line, where people can make phone calls to have their problems dealt with."

Estonia: There has never been a ban on sexual minorities in the Estonian military.  The Public Relations Department writes that, "according to the Estonian legislation all sexual minorities have the same rights and duties compared with the others.  In respect to the army it means that all males have the duty to serve in the army and all females have the right to do so."

Ireland: According to Denise Croke of OUThouse, a support service for gays and lesbians in Ireland, there is no gay ban in the Irish military. Cathal Kelly, International Secretary of the National Lesbian and Gay Foundation, which implements recent equality legislation in Ireland, says that the Employment Equality Act of 1998 applies to the Irish military.  This act is available online and is item #21 on the list.

Italy: Arcigay, the gay and lesbian rights organization in Italy, responded to inquiries by saying the legally there is no precedent of barring gays and lesbians from the military, but in reality this is not necessarily the case.  If the presence of a gay service member disrupts military discipline, it appears he or she can be dismissed. Additionally, a law exists in Italy that allows gay people to avoid military service based on their homosexuality.  More information is available at: www.gay.it/noi, which offers a link to the home page of NOI, Notizie Omosessuali Italiane.

Lithuania: Gays and lesbians are not legally regulated in Lithuania's armed forces.  The Ministry of Defense writes that, "Theoretically they can serve openly but there is no practical case like this in Lithuania so far. Officially, no bans exist or have ever existed on service of sexual minorities in Lithuanian military."

Slovenia: There is no ban in the Slovenian military, but homosexuality is still listed among psychiatric diseases.  Yet the "Rules for establishing medical capability for serving in the military" stipulate that "recruits are capable of serving in the military unless it is predicted that they will be disturbing to military unit."  The Slovenian Queer Resources Directory writes, "In practice it means that gay men can avoid being drafted if they state on the draft that they are gay and that they do not want to serve." There is no known case of a professional military personnel being fired for his homosexuality.

Switzerland: Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve and there is no ban. Their ability to serve is only questioned if their sexual orientation somehow interferes with their service.  (Both the Swiss Military and its gay and lesbian organization agree on this matter.)

Germany: Germany no longer has a ban on gays and lesbians, nor does it allow any form of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military. In January of 2001, the General Inspector of the Federal Army, Harald Kujat, published a code of conduct entitled "Dealing with Sexuality" that established within the army “an equal treatment for gay lesbian members of the army” that is considered “a binding antidiscrimination measure" (from Klaus Jetz of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany).

Uruguay: A 2009 email from Mauricixo CoitiƱo, Institutional Relations Secretary of Uruguay, confirms that discrimination against gays and lesbians in the armed forces of Uruguay is forbidden. He cites a law that “penalizes the commission of acts of violence, humiliation or disrespect against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” and another law that “declares that the fight against all kinds of discrimination is of national interest.” He also states that “there are no restrictions whatsoever for the participation of gay, lesbian and transgender people in our army.”

A co-production with Palm Center