Thailand bars gay men, transgendered from draft

BY Advocate.com Editors

March 26 2003 1:00 AM ET

The Thai military plans to exempt gay men and transgendered people from its draft, fearing they could undermine the armed forces. "The military has to keep them out, which is not because we are prejudiced but because we fear that the military will collapse," army commander general Somdhat Atthanand was quoted as saying in Matichon newspaper on Tuesday. An army spokesman later confirmed Somdhat's statement to reporters. Thais who have reached the age of 20 are required to serve in the military for two years. The conscription is done once every year, and up to 80,000 men are
expected to be drafted this year between April 1 and April 11. In the past, gay men and transgendered people have been drafted but later expelled after being found unable to adjust to army life, according to the military.

Somdhat said gay men and transgendered people will be identified during medical and psychological examinations at draft centers and sent back home. He said men "who lean toward" being gay, cross-dressers, and the transgendered could create problems for the military "because they may have physical attributes that are inappropriate."

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