AMSTERDAM: The Dutch Society for the Integration of Homosexuality (COC) has started to fight for gays in the Netherlands army. The first step COC took was to deliver a report to the Minister of Defence. This, entitled Homosexuality, the Armed Forces and the Medical Examination, was handed over by a delegation of COC committee members, two of them dressed in Dutch Royal Army uniforms.
COC’s stand is that there have always been gays in the army and always will be, even though the army’s executive staff maintains that there are no homosexuals in the Armed Forces.
Over the past few years Dutch society has shown itself to be very positive in its appreciation of homosexuality. In the penal code homosexuality is no longer mentioned. The Minister for Social Affairs recently said in Parliament that discrimination of homosexual men and women in industry must be condemned.
But the Medical Examinations Regulations of the Armed Forces still insists that homosexuality is an illness or a deficiency that must lead to rejection.
This means that the very gays who would be able to cope with military service are rejected, whereas those who dare not come out pass as fit – but the truth is that they are very unsuited indeed to the army life.
COC calls for a new kind of medical examination. It is not important to consider whether someone is homosexual or heterosexual, but whether he is able to function in a social group. COC thinks the armed forces are based on a totally obsolete image of society.
The armed forces are characterised by a very authoritarian structure; military discipline violates the principle of equality.
COC does not express an opinion about the use of the armed forces as such. It is, however, convinced that an army has no use if it will not protect the rights of minorities when necessary, or even worse, when it will tread on the rights of those minorities