Homosexual integration of jobs shows little strife

January 31, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Although the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff fea widespread disruption if homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the military, evidence of such disruption is scarce in other nations' militaries and in other segments of U.S. society in which gays have been openly integrated.

Without question, the U.S. military is a unique organization, making direct comparison with other institutions or settings inevitably imprecise. Nonetheless, other elements of society in the United States and abroad have confronted similar concerns in recent years as homosexuals entered various occupations and settings where they were previously shunned.

In those cases, interviews and research last week indicate that despite some initial controversy and unease, evidence of significant disruptions and conflicts is sparse.

Countries that now allow homosexuals to serve in the military, such as Israel, Canada and the Netherlands, say that they have not experienced problems.

"It's not an issue that's on the agenda," said Israeli Embassy spokeswoman Ruth Yaron. "It's never reached the level of public debate."

Ms. Yaron said individual problems with gay soldiers or with those who reacted adversely to serving with homosexuals had cropped up, but they "have been been sporadic."

In the Netherlands, where the ban against gays in the military was lifted amid considerable uproar about homosexuality in 1974, only a single case of sexual misconduct involving a gay or lesbian was reported in the past four years, said Maj. Jos Hooimeyer, assistant military attache at the Dutch Embassy.

In the United States, police and fire departments generally have not experienced serious problems integrating homosexuals, according to a study last year by the investigative arm of Congress.

The General Accounting Office reported that "police and fire officials who have admitted homosexuals into their departments stated that homosexuals and heterosexuals appear to have acceptable working relationships."

The Seattle Fire Department, which adopted a nondiscrimination provision in 1979, has not seen its recruitment suffer, said spokeswoman Georgia Taylor.

"We've had our problems historically with women and minorities entering the department, but we haven't had anyone walk off the job based on someone's sexual preference," she said.

Representatives of several oil companies, whose workers often live together in cramped and isolated quarters, said they did not ban homosexuals from their companies. Spokesmen for Chevron, Mobil, Arco and Amoco said they were not aware of any significant problems.

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