Chile’s army chief apologizes for anti-gay memo

Soldiers in the village of Rininahue, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5, 2011.

The head of Chile’s army, Gen. Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba, apologized today for an internal military memo instructing recruiters to avoid recruiting gay Chileans and Jehovah’s Witnesses for the army, BBC News reported.

The directive, signed by a senior general, Christian Chateau, also told recruiters to pass on drug users, criminals, people with physical, mental or socioeconomic problems and conscientious objectors, the Associated Press reported.

"I offer my sincere apology to any person who may have felt affected by the unfortunate expressions," Fuente-Alba said, according to BBC News.

Chile's Channel 13 TV revealed the memo’s existence yesterday, BBC News reported.

Defense Minister Andres Allemand said today that he’s requested a full military review of the matter, the AP reported. He told recruiters to disregard the document immediately since it contradicts government and army policy against discrimination, BBC News reported.

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Saying that an apology was not enough, Chilean gay rights groups are calling for Gen. Chateau to be fired, BBC News reported.

“We need a cultural shift in the army to promote non-discrimination,” Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh (Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation) told the Spanish news agency Efe, according to the BBC. “Sanctions must be imposed against those who discriminate."

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