The Prime Minister of the Netherlands has called a comment by a US general on the impact of gay troops on the Dutch army as a “disgraceful statement”.
Speaking last week at Senate hearings on the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on LGBT personnel in the US military, Retired NATO Commander Gen. John Sheehan said that the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 was due in part because Dutch forces included openly gay soldiers.
The failure of the Dutch to hold the city on behalf of the UN led to a massacre of Muslims by Bosnian Serbs.
Sheehan’s statement was ridiculed by Dutch defence spokesman Roger van de Wetering who said: “It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense”
“The Srebrenica massacre and the involvement of UN soldiers was extensively investigated by the Netherlands, international organisations and the United Nations. Never was there in any way concluded that the sexual orientation of soldiers played a role,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday the country’s Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende also criticised the general’s comments, saying that they were “disgraceful”.
“I find it below standard if one speaks in this manner of the work that people have to do in difficult circumstances,” said Balkenende.
The US Senate is engaged in a series of hearings to consider repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, as called for by President Obama.