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Swedish Allegations of Anti-Gay Bias in Finnish Defence Forces

The Finnish Defence Forces have been accused of anti-gay bias by a Swedish organisation promoting sexual equality in the Swedish military. It claims Finnish military attitudes make it difficult for Swedish soldiers to take part in joint Nordic combat forces. The Finnish Defence Forces are surprised by the comments.

There has been much debate in Sweden recently on the rights of gay conscripts, and their possibilities of serving on foreign missions.

Finns have been singled out as the most difficult soldiers to work with. According to HOF, the Swedish organisation promoting the rights of sexual minorities in the Swedish military, the attitudes of Finns are making it more difficult for Swedish soldiers to take part in the EU's new Nordic battle group.

In an interview with Swedish radio, the President of HOF is calling for Defence Minister Mikael Odenberg to discuss the matter of discriminatory and insulting behaviour with his Finnish colleague Jyri Häkämies.

The Swedish Defence Forces have placed a high priority on the fight against homophobia in the military.

Finnish Forces Deny Accusations

Finland's Defence Forces deny the accusations. Admiral Hanno Streng told YLE News a programme aimed at increasing diversity and equality had been implemented in eight units this year.

For its part, the Sexual Equality in Finland organisation(SETA) says the Finnish Defence Forces could take minorities more into consideration in its advertising campaigns.

SETA Secretary-General Aija Salo said it was important for officials to accept and to show they accepted diversity in order to increase their credibility in the eyes of the public.

The organisation asays many conscripts opt-out of service because of a fear of perceived anti-gay sentiments in the defence forces. Many gay conscripts, though, say, it is more of a question of being left out socially.

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