WASHINGTON (Jul. 7)
To help in the formulation of a new U.S. government policy on the controversial subject of gays in the military, the General Accounting Office has released a study detailing how Israel and various other foreign countries have dealt with the issue.
President Clinton has stated his intention of lifting the current ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.
But the Joint Chiefs of Staff and supporters in Congress have strongly objected to such a move, maintaining that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
The White House is expected shortly to announce its new plan, which will probably involve a compromise to try to accommodate both the military and gay rights groups.
The GAO report, released by the congressional agency in June, details the status of gays in the military in Israel, Canada, Germany and Sweden, all of which allow them to serve.
In Israel, gays have been serving in the military since the country’s founding.
But it was not until this May that all restrictions on the recruitment, assignment, or promotion of gays were removed.
In Israel, the report says, the issue of gays in the military is not controversial, as it is in the United States.
Because gays have served in the Israeli military for 45 years, the report says, “most people do not have strong feelings about homosexuals’ presence in the military.”
“Moreover, homosexuals and homosexual rights in general are not issues which are at the forefront of public debate,” the report says.
It cautions, however, that because of the different societal patterns in different countries, it is difficult to reproduce one country’s experience in another.
The report includes information on 25 countries. Eleven countries allow gays to serve, 11 do not and three countries’ policies were unclear.
The study was requested by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has been conducting hearings on the issue.