Uproar over Chile army discrimination

Government says army document suggesting exclusion of homosexuals, poor and others is "completely unjustified."

    Army Commander in Chief Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba denounced any form of discrimination [Reuters]
    Army Commander in Chief Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba denounced any form of discrimination [Reuters]

    A leaked army document suggesting the exclusion of homosexuals, poor people, Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups from their ranks has caused an uproar in Chile.

    On Friday, Chile Vice President Rodrigo Hinzpeter condemned the document, which surfaced on Thursday, as “very serious and completely unjustified.”

    “[The document is] completely off base from the current reality of our country and should be immediately adjusted to the norms of our anti-discrimination law which the [President Sebastian] Pinera administration enacted a few months ago," Hinzpeter said.

    The document called for prioritizing the recruitment of "citizens of more appropriate moral and intellectual capacities" excluding "those with physical or mental health problems, the poor, criminals, drug users, homosexuals, conscientious objectors and Jehovah's Witnesses."

    Army Commander in Chief Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba denounced any form of discrimination in the ranks and apologized for the document.

    "As Commander in Chief of the army I categorically reject any document, provision, regulation or internal instructions that arbitrarily discriminate against any person or member of an institution,"

    "I sincerely apologize to anyone who might have felt affected by such unfortunate language from an internal army document," Fuente-Alba said.

    Rights groups have called on the army and the armed forces to take swift action regarding the discriminatory language in the document.

    The Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement said the army's response has so far been "insufficient."

    "There is discrimination, there is homophobia in the army. People are persecuted and this has to change radically,” the president of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement, Rolando Jimenez said.

    “And today we have to learn from this violent situation and these lessons are for a proactive policy from every branch of the armed forces and in particular the army and the defence ministry," Jimenez added.

    The group has called for the immediate resignation of the commander of the army's first division, Cristian Chateau who signed the document.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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