Over 400 people were fired from the US military in 2009 for being gay, says a report from a group representing LGBT troops and veterans.
Servicemembers United announced that the total official number of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges for 2009 now stands at 443.
The statistics combines the total number of discharges reported by the Department of Defense, which was 428, with the discharges from the Coast Guard, which are 15.
This means that in the 17 year history of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving in the US military, at least 13,425 people have been discharged under the ban.
The 2009 figure was, however, a new low; something which was expected thanks to growing opposition to the policy within and outside the military.
“This … reflects a continuing downward trend, as military commanders continue to ignore this law that is clearly outdated and which impairs their unit readiness,” said Alexander Nicholson, a former US Army interrogator who was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the current Executive Director of Servicemembers United.
The organisation cautioned, however, that the real 2009 figures are likely higher than reported because the statistics from the Department of Defense do not include discharges from the Reserves or the National Guard.
President Obama has committed to repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban in 2010, but activists say that the military is stalling his efforts.