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Paper: LGBT+ conscripts in Estonia may in some cases face 'additional checks'

EDF conscripts' boots on the ground.
EDF conscripts' boots on the ground. Source: Karl Jakob Toplaan

While there is no bar on LGBT+ persons serving in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), in some cases out gay or non-heterosexual people may be sent for additional consultations with doctors ahead of being accepted for military service, regional daily Lõuna Postimees reports.

Merle Ulst, who heads the vocational department at the Defense Resources Agency (Kaitseressursside Amet), says that same-sex attraction tendencies are "generally not an obstacle to military service," though, Lõuna Postimees adds, if an individual conscript or volunteer has been diagnosed with a mental or behavioral disorder which is "connected to homosexuality," then that "health disorder" as diagnosed "may become an obstacle to military service."

Ulst said that: "If an individual cannot cope with their sexual orientation and as a result that causes diagnosable mental and emotional disorders in that person, it is possible that the person in question will not be accepted for military service," adding that it is down to a medical professional to give a final assessment – doctors have the option to refer the subject to additional examinations, which the Defense Resources Agency will cover the cost of.

Lõuna Postimees reports that openly gay people are barred from military service not only in totalitarian regimes such as the Russian Federation or the People's Republic of China, but also in democracies such as India, and the western-aligned South Korea – the paper identifies one key difference in the case of Estonia as its being a very small country, where national defense is critical.

The rest of the Lõuna Postimees article deals with military service health exemptions and issues, including those relating to epilepsy and to eyesight matters.

Estonia has conscription in place for males for eight- or 11-month terms, depending on the unit (land forces and the navy take on conscripts; the air force does not), with some exemptions in place, for instance on university students, conscientious objectors etc.

The US military in 2011 dispensed with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of prohibiting the persecution of closeted gay people while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. Openly LGBT+ persons have been permitted to serve in Britain's armed forces since 2000.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Postimees

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