23:57 GMT28 November 2020
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    A Finnish military brochure advised homosexuals to doubt their chances of completing military service due to demanding conditions and urged them to opt for the same category as people with mental health issues instead.

    The Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland has criticised the Finnish Armed Forces for using discriminatory training material in fitness checks for new conscripts.

    The ombudsman's report specifically berated the Centre for Military Medicine, responsible for the health of Finnish conscripts and Armed Forces personnel, which referred to sexual orientation, specifically homosexuality, as an obstacle to successfully completing military service, national broadcaster Yle reported.

    The material cited the demanding conditions of service as well as communal living conditions, noting that because of their sexual orientation, a conscript should doubt their chances of completing service. Instead the brochure recommended that they consider opting for something described as the "C-Class" category in fitness checks, the same as people with mental health issues who are exempt from peacetime military service.

    However, the ombudsman said that the training material might have given health professionals the impression that sexuality could be a hindrance to military service, despite Finland formally declassifying homosexuality as an illness in 1981.

    Defence Command, which oversees the execution of duties prescribed to the Defence Forces, assured the ombudsman that sexual orientation is not considered a disorder by the military and that it is also not seen a criterion for classification in the C-Class category. The sections of the training brochure deemed discriminatory have since been removed by the Armed Forces.

    Finland is widely viewed as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world. Last year, the Gay Happiness Index ranked it as the happiest country for the LGBT community, edging out fellow Nordic countries and New Zealand.

    Popular acceptance of the LGBT community is also high. A 2019 poll found that 80 percent of Finns believe sexual minorities should enjoy all the same rights as heterosexuals. Perhaps fittingly, incumbent Prime Minister Sanna Marin hails from a same-sex family and says her family's strong belief in equality is the foundation of her political views.


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    armed forces, Scandinavia, LGBT, Finland
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