There are claims that the Lithuanian army is excluding gay recruits through a set of bizarre questions during military service screenings.
The country recently introduced compulsory military conscription and up to three thousand men are expected to be drafted this year.
According to the Lithuania Tribune, a psychological test to asses recruits’ suitability asks questions including if they like picking flowers, if they’ve considered a career in the floral industry and if they’ve ever wanted to be a woman.
Kęstutis Ramanauskas, a psychiatrist at a military recruitment office in Klaipėda, confirmed to a local newspaper that the questions were intended to identify possible gay recruits.
“I use it as a criteria to screen them out. Even though it is claimed that it [homosexuality] is not a disease, but it is. Wrong orientation is a psycho-behavioural disorder. Even though some disagree. But a person like that will be bullied in the army, he will not be able to serve out the nine-month term,” Ramanauskas said.
Lithuania’s Minister of Defence, Juozas Olekas, responded to the reports; insisting that the army does not discriminate against gay soldiers and that they are not excluded from serving in the military.
“Our laws and decrees do not include any discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The army is open to both heterosexual and homosexual individuals, we do not reject troops fit to serve in Lithuania’s Armed Forces by the principle,” he said in Parliament.
While homosexuality was legalised in Lithuania in 1993 and there are anti-discrimination laws in place (enacted in order to qualify to enter the EU), same-sex relationships are still not legally recognised.
In 2013, it was reported that the Russian Defence Ministry issued guidelines to assess the sexual orientation of conscripts. This included checking their bodies for tattoos near the face, sexual organs and buttocks, as these could apparently indicate if the individual is gay or a “sexual deviant.”
The guidelines also advised assessors to look out for recruits’ mental instability, including early sexual experiences and “uncontrolled sexual behaviour.”