Russian Military to Exclude Gays
[MOSCOW] - Gays will no longer be permitted in the Russian military, according to a news report from Moscow.
Under new guidelines announced this week, gays have been added to a list of categories that includes drug addicts, men with sexually transmitted diseases, and the mentally infirm.
Unlike most countries Russia does not have a volunteer army and uses a draft to get recruits.
The new regulations, published in the March 13 edition of Rossiiskaya Gazeta, are due to take effect July 1.
The military said the change is part of an effort "to tighten health requirements for conscripts" and comes at a time when the Russian military, underfunded and demoralized since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is struggling to fill its ranks.
The Chairman of the Russian Defense Ministry's Central Military Medical Commission, Major General Valery Kulikov, denied there was homophobia behind the decision, although gays in the military have long complained that they have been subjected to harassment and hazing.
"This is not a medical matter. The classification of diseases by the World Health Organization does not include such a disease. The new rules are based on international norms. So we are not calling this a diagnosis. However, people [of 'untraditional sexual orientation'] suffer some psychological changes, while people with personality disorders are not eligible for the draft in compliance with medical examination rules for servicemen," Kulikov said.
Kulikov also implied that gays already in the military would be discharged. A new constitution, passed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, decriminalized homosexuality.
The military changes revert to a practice employed during the Soviet era. In January the Soviet army opted to return to the red flag with which it been identified since the Russian revolution.