Latin America & Caribbean

Chile army head says sorry over anti-gay directive

Gen Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba in August 2012 (file image from Army of Chile website)
Image caption Gen Fuente-Alba said discrimination would not be not tolerated in the Chilean army

Chile's army head has apologised for a directive instructing military recruiters not to admit homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses.

"I offer my sincere apology to any person who may have felt affected by the unfortunate expressions," Gen Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba said.

A local TV channel had revealed the document, signed by a senior general.

However, Chilean gay groups have rejected the army's apology, saying it is not enough.

Gen Fuente-Alba said he made it clear there should be no discrimination.

He had ordered a full review of military documents to eliminate any such guidance, he added.

The Chilean government also rejected the army directive. Defence minister Andres Allamand said it contradicted government and army policy against discrimination and should be disregarded immediately.

Mr Allamand ordered the armed forces to immediately comply with the laws against discrimination.

Dismissal calls

On Thursday, Chile's Channel 13 TV revealed an internal army document signed by a senior general, Christian Chateau, which asked recruiters to do their utmost to find soldiers "morally and intellectually" prepared for military service.

The document stated that people with mental, socio-economic problems or criminal behaviour, as well as homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses, should be excluded from the army.

General Chateau said the instruction was meant as a guide for recruiters.

Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh (Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation) told the Spanish news agency Efe that Gen Chateau should be sacked.

"It is not possible that a general issued such judgements," he said.

"Eliminating discriminatory rules is not enough. We need a cultural shift in the army to promote non-discrimination. Sanctions must be imposed against those who discriminate."

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