2014 LGBT Military Index report ranked India below Liberia, Congo

Chennabasaveshwar P

Bengaluru, Jan 11: Army Chief Bipin Rawat during his annual press conference categorically ruled out same-sex relations and decriminalising adultery in the force, saying that the Army is "conservative" and that LGBT issues "are not acceptable". Rawat's remarks were in response to a question during his annual press conference on the Supreme Court rulings that decriminalised adultery and same-sex relations.

On the LGBT issue, Rawat said: "We certainly are not above the country's law. But when we join the Indian Army, some of the rights and privileges authorised to civilians by the Constitution are not authorised to me. The Supreme Court has said something and we have to see how we take a call. Let us also see how this comes into the society."

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Defence forces around the world have different approach to LGBT issue in contradiction to the Indian Army. The first and only LGBT Military Index report launched by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) in 2014 ranked India in the bottom half of the list recording only 34 out of 100 in LGBT score. The report ranked countries on the basis of inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender personnel in armed forces.

Indian military was ranked as among the least gay-friendly in the world, while Britain's military was the second most homosexuality-friendly. The Netherlands is also second in the ranking along with UK. New Zealand's military, which was found to be the most gay-friendly in the world top scored with 100.

India was ranked below countries like Liberia (38), Sierra Leone (47), Congo (49), Rwanda (52) and Nepal (55) when it comes to tolerating homosexuality in its armed forces.

Australia ranked fifth in the index while the US ranked relatively low at 40th out of the 103 countries. Sweden was ranked third (97.5) followed by Canada (94.3), Denmark (93.5), Belgium (93), Israel (92) and France and Spain tied at a score of 91.8.

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Nigeria was found to be the most intolerant scoring as low as 3, followed by Iran (6), Syria (7), Zimbabwe (9) and Ghana (10).

The Index maps the situation of LGBT participation in the armed forces on a global scale. Every country in the world implements a different combination of policies based on inclusion, admission, tolerance, exclusion, and persecution. Based on these combinations, every armed force can be estimated and ranked to compare countries.

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