This week Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez announced that his government will “allow gays to join the armed forces” by scrapping military rules that define homosexuality as a disorder”.
Vazquez explained his decision saying, “The Uruguayan government does not discriminate against citizens based on their political, ethnic or sexual identity”. Uruguay’s Deputy Defense Minister elaborated, “There were a series of rules … regarding the psycho-physical requirements (for entry into the armed forces) in which homosexuality was seen as a sexual identity disorder, and this is what is being repealed”.
The ban was imposed by the 1973-85 military dictatorship barring people with what it called open sexual deviations from entering the military academies.
Homosexuality was among the mental illnesses and disorders that make a person unsuitable to join the Uruguayan armed forces. The new decree states that sexual orientation will no longer be considered a reason to prevent people entering the military.
The announcement came as a surprise for the rather conservative Uruguayan society, and retired armed forces expressed their opposition to the decision, but overall the decision has been accepted.
During the military dictatorship there were several publicized cases of officers discharged with dishonour for homosexual practices.