Homosexual conscripts – not welcome in the Lithuanian military?

For which purpose a future soldier is asked questions such as: do you like picking flowers and/or would you like to be a florist? Perhaps in order to have Lithuanian conscripts in the army decoded as homosexual persons or have their sexual orientation revealed? The military acknowledges that homosexual conscripts are not welcome in the Lithuanian army because of “disorders of sexual preference”, on the other hand, LGBT* human rights defenders see this as discrimination in the selection of conscripts.

According to the Klaipėda Regional Conscription Division, the selection of conscripts does not only call upon criteria such as full health, but also relies on a special psychological test. After speaking with a psychologist, a potential conscript still has to visit a psychiatrist. “I was surprised by the questions about picking flowers and whether I would have liked to be a florist. I wonder what these questions seek to clarify,” a young man wondered. Maybe an attempt to identify a person’s sexual orientation?

To decipher homosexuality

Psychiatrist Kęstutis Ramanauskas confirms that the test may be partly an attempt to find out the conscript’s sexual orientation. “The questions can be interpreted as a way to have insights on the person’s character or attitude. The point is whether a person will be able to serve out the army for nine months. Not everyone is able to make it until the end,” declared the doctor.

The fact that the psychological test contains questions about flowers or the desire to be a woman did not leave the psychiatrist surprised. “Such psychological tests are used in all NATO countries. They are all translated from English. The same test applies to all the countries,” assured the specialist.

When asked if indeed the army filters homosexuals, the medic confirms that this tends to happen. “This is exactly what I meant. After the initial information provided by the test answers, what I do is an attempt to analyze the person more closely. I do not only look if he has an earring,” added Mr. Ramanauskas.

When asked if the military has an issue with LGBT* persons, the psychiatrist replies that they are not suitable for the army. “I write them off. Although it is said that it is not a disease, it actually is. Wrong sexual orientation is a psychological disorder. Others might think otherwise. After all, if admitted as a conscript, such a person will be the subject of bullying in the army for nine months, “- declared the psychiatrist Ramanauskas.

A part of a conscript’s personality study

Adriana Vinklerytė, Captain of the Military Medical Service and Vice-President of the Military Medicine Expertise Commission clarified that homosexuality is not a disease. However, the expert noted that “the presence of disorders of sexual preference” will undoubtedly prevent the admission to the service. “Medically, according to international statistics regarding classification of diseases and disorders, sexual orientation itself is not considered a disease or disorder. However, if the person has a personality disorder, which, according to the international classification among other disorders include gender identity disorders and disorders of sexual preference, a person can be declared unfit for the military service, as well as for other mental and behavioral disorders,” declared Captain Vinklerytė. “In addition, eligibility for military service does not consider sexual orientation, as well as the Conscription Act does not provide for exemption from the obligatory initial military service on the grounds of sexual orientation,” explained the expert.

Commentary of Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of the national LGBT* rights organization LGL

When asked, the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Lithuania argues that this questionnaire is an internal document. One LGL member informed us that during the employment process in the national defense service she has been asked to answer similar questions, which can reveal the person’s sexual orientation. If this has been done, I have a question – for which purpose are the information collected? And what if it turns out that a person is homosexual or bisexual? Does this mean that the person is deprived of the right to serve in the army? Or maybe this person will be appointed by the military to a florist position inside the army, perhaps training in the military service with women’s clothes?

I am ironic but I am also speaking seriously: such a questionnaire, in my view, is discriminatory. Defense system is a closed one, we have repeatedly asked the leadership of the Ministry of National Defense to improve the Military Code of Ethics. It must be written clearly that any man shall not be discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation. But this request has been opposed, even though the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania would be able to provide guidance to the amendment of the Military Code of Ethics.

Therefore, I have reached a conclusion that the Ministry of National Defense is considering this issue offhandedly and this will inevitably emerge as a problem. After all, a large part of these troops are serving in NATO partner countries. It could be interpreted that it is unsafe for a homosexual person to serve in the Lithuanian military. For example, the Armed Forces of the US or Canada are experiencing the exact opposite situation. What then will happen upon the arrival of homosexual troops to Lithuania? Our troops will perceive other countries’ forces as the enemy, instead of seeing them as partners. This would encourage disagreement with each other, rather than with the common enemy. Only Turkish army so far attempted to identify sexual orientation and prevent homosexual conscripts from serving. However, Turkey is a clear example of a country still far from European standards.”