ASSESSING THE INTEGRATION OF GAYS AND LESBIANS INTO THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL DEFENCE FORCE

Aaron Belkin, Margot Canaday

Abstract


During the apartheid era, the South African military maintained a dual policy on
homosexuality – prohibited among members of the permanent force, homosexuality
was officially tolerated among conscripts. When the regime fell, the new
government committed itself to human rights considerations, and after the South
African Constitution adopted a provision of non-discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation in 1996, the South African military followed suit. In 1998, the
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) implemented the Policy on Equal
Opportunity and Affirmative Action that declared that there would no longer be
discrimination against gays and lesbians. This article draws together military and
government documents, secondary research, press coverage and interviews with
individuals with knowledge on this topic to assess the effects of this policy change.
The evidence suggests that the integration of gay and lesbian personnel has not had a
negative impact on recruitment and retention, morale, unit cohesion or operational
effectiveness in the SANDF.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5787/38-2-87

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ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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