Metro Weekly

America ranks 40th for gay-friendliness of armed forces

A new index released by The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies in Holland has ranked 103 of the world’s armed forces based on their openness to LGBT people. New Zealand, which legalized gay marriage last year, permits LGBT members to serve openly and allowed its soldiers to participate in a gay-pride parade, jumped straight in at the top spot. The Netherlands, Britain and Sweden all allow open service and have all legalized same-sex marriage, and round out the top four spots.

The other end of the list is dominated by countries where being gay is still considered either a criminal offense or considered an unnatural disposition. Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Nigeria all feature in this section, with Nigeria the lowest scoring nation due to laws which permit death by stoning in the country’s Muslim north and up to 14 years imprisonment in the Christain south, and a record for incredibly poor human rights, both LGBT and otherwise.

The United States ranking of just 40th may surprised some in the wake of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. However, while that allowed gay, bisexual and lesbian servicemembers to serve openly, it did not lift the restriction on transgender personnel. That’s because DADT didn’t limit transgender inclusion in the military — according to PolicyMic, a transgendered person is considered to have a “psychosexual” condition which is prohibited by the military medical code along with “cross-dressing, and any other actions interpreted as gender transitioning”.

As such, the United States armed forces lost ranking in the Hague index in ‘admission’ and ‘non-exclusion’, settling it between Romania and Italy near the middle of the table. For those under the ‘T’ section of LGBT, the United States military still has a long way to go.

The full table is included below.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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