E.U. & U.S. Public Policy Forum Social Development

Review and Prospect of Gay and Lesbian Members of the U.S. Armed Forces: From Total Exclusion to Gradual Integration

Author:Cing-Kae Chiao Adjunct Research Fellow

Release Date:2017/07/13

Origin of Topic

  In rare move, a drama named “Rainbow” depicting a gay serviceman who received a Dear John Letter from his partner was aired in January 2017 during Taiwan’s military television program, Chu Kuang TV Teaching (莒光園地) and uploaded to YouTube. Due to protests by irate anti-gay groups in Taiwan, the Department of Defense was forced to remove the video from the Internet. This move was followed by intense discussion from supporters on both sides of the issue. While Taiwan is debating the legalization of same-sex marriage, could the action of the Department of Defense indicate that there would be significant changes toward the taboo of discussing subjects related to homosexuals serving in Taiwan’s armed forces? If so, how could relevant experience of other countries provide lessons for Taiwan?

  Homosexuals serving in armed forces has long been a controversial and widely discussed topic in the United States. The general attitudes toward discussing the topic in the military had gone from total exclusion to gradual compromise, and finally to complete integration by the end of 2010. Consequently, not only making U.S. military the largest American entity among public and private sectors to have completely accepted employing sexual minorities but also paving the way that led to resolutions for controversies surrounding gender equality such as same-sex marriage, gender equality for women in combat, etc. Since Taiwan’s military system is modeled after the United States, we are currently facing similar circumstances. The purpose of this article is to provide a retrospect on the evolution of regulations toward gay and lesbian members of the U.S. armed forces, discuss relevant reforms under the Obama administration in 2010, and offer useful reference for Taiwan’s military to overcome similar challenges when constructing its all-volunteer force in the future.(......more)

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