SANTIAGO – Chilean soldier Alfredo Morales reported Monday that he was been harassed and insulted by enlisted men and officers in the army because of his sexual orientation.
Morales went public with the abusive incidents after being counseled by the Gay Integration and Liberation Movement, or Movilh, which noted that this is the first such complaint in the Chilean army and said it will take legal action.
“I felt degraded and humiliated. There is no army document that says a gay man can’t be a soldier. I wanted to follow the profession of my grandfather who was in the military, but I was constantly abused for my sexual orientation and they often kept me on psychiatric leave.
The soldier, 22, has been stationed with the La Concepcion Armored Brigade in the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta since April of this year.
The gay enlisted man said he brought the homophobic insults to his commanding officers’ attention, but his complaints were judged insubordination, for which they demanded that he sign his resignation from the armed forces.
Morales refused, so they informed him that they were discharging him at the end of this month. “I’m not signing my resignation, but I’m not going back to the army either, because it’s obvious there will be repression,” the young man said, adding that there are other soldiers in the same situation.
The soldier said he first worked in telecommunications but was moved to the dining room to work as a waiter due to the insults of his colleagues.
“My fellow soldiers blew me kisses and called me a ‘queer.’ For that reason, I spent a lot of time on medical and psychiatric leave, which also interfered with my studies,” he said.
The insults and mistreatment were repeated by his superior officers, a captain and a commander. The latter, according to the soldier, maintained that gays should not be allowed in the army.
Rolando Jimenez, Movilh’s director in the area of human rights, said that his organization send a letter to the army’s Commander in Chief Humberto Oviedo last July 27 in which he complained about the incidents and requested an investigation into the matter and sanctions against the guilty parties.
According to Jimenez, a commander took a statement from the soldier but did not send the results of the investigation to Movilh, which will undertake Morales’s legal representation.
“We are taking this to court for sure – we’re only evaluating which will be the most opportune legal action to deal with this abuse,” Jimenez said.