New Zealand Army Tops First LGBT Military Index; UK Came in Second While Australia Ranks 5th

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A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag during a protest against a verdict by the Supreme Court in New Delhi December 15, 2013
A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag during a protest against a verdict by the Supreme Court in New Delhi December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi REUTERS

(Source:YouTube/New Zealand Defence Force)

New Zealand has topped the LGBT Military Index for its inclusion of lesbians, homosexuals, transgender and bisexual soldiers in the army as neighbouring country Australia ranked fifth overall.

The Centre for Strategies Studies based in Hague measured the LGBT Military Index based on admittance, tolerance, persecution or exclusion of gays and lesbians in 103 armies in countries worldwide. The Dutch Ministry of Defence requested the rankings to mark the 40th year Netherlands has openly allowed LGBT personnel to serve in the army.

New Zealand's army emerged the most tolerant in its inclusion of homosexuals with the United Kingdom and Netherlands both in second place.

The United States army ranks 40th while the Nigerian army is in last place in the LGBT Military Index.The Centre for Strategic Studies noted that New Zealand created a video for the "It Gets Better" project which was targeted for teens and young adults who continue to struggle with their sexuality.

New Zealand's former Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones and nine other members of the force spoke about their fears of letting family and friends know about their sexuality.

In the video footage, one corporal declared he was gay and his sexuality will not change for him. Another member of the force speculated about living with a girl despite being gay and still have children including the white picket fence.

The video began with the message that the New Zealand Defence Force is "proud" to be an organisation that welcomes LGBT members.

Out of 103 countries included in the LGBT Military Index, the U.S. army was placed at number 40 behind armies in Chile, Cuba and Georgia. The ban on transgender individuals in the U.S. military has significantly affected its ranking in the first global league table of LGBT in the armed forces.

In September 2011, the U.S. armed forces repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which had forced homosexuals in the military to keep their sexuality to themselves. The American federal government has extended equal benefits of same-sex couples in the military following the Supreme Court's verdict that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

However, these were not enough since the U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to LGBT issues.

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