Sailor comes out in first for Chile’s armed forces
A sailor in Chile has become the first serving member of the country’s armed forces to come out as gay.
Mauricio Ruiz, 24, told a televised news conference his decision had “not been easy”, but he wanted to help fight homophobic discrimination.
Mr Ruiz said gay people had “no reason to hide”.
“We can do anything, be marines or in any branch (of the military). We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else,” he told reporters in the Chilean capital, Santiago.
“In life there’s nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are.”
Rolando Jimenez, president of Chile’s Movement for Integration and Homosexual Liberation, praised the decision.
The BBC reports Mr Jimenez said the navy is “telling the country and the members of the institution particularly that it is possible for gays and lesbians to be part of the armed forces and that they aren’t going to suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation within these institutions”.
Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Chile, although the country has high rates of homophobic and transphobic crime.
The 2012 killing of Daniel Zamudio, a young gay man in Santiago, resulted in the toughening up of hate crime legislation.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Chile. Efforts to pass civil unions have stalled in recent years.