Have you ever thought of having been born as a girl? Do you like flowers? Do you like poesy? The questions are part of the military psychological test Lithuanian conscripts have to take before being ruled by the doctors if they are fit for the barracks.
Some of the guys call the questionnaire with contempt «stupid», others laugh off the queries.
Is that the way to sort out «machos» and «sissies»? Military mental health specialists use slightly different, more sophisticated language speaking of the test, suggesting that it is part of the examination to detect more effeminate conscripts, possibly with homosexual inclinations, who might be subject to bullying and harassing during the service, therefore they have to be dismissed from the draft.
Lithuanian LGBT has called the screening «discriminatory» while the idea of standing next to a gay serviceman in the line triggers emotions ranging from nausea to single-conscripts’ reasoning that sexual orientation does not matter when it comes to defending the Motherland.
«Some of the questions are just weird. Like this one whether I ever thought being a woman. Obviously all will reply negatively,» grinned Edvardas, a young conscript, asked by a Lrytas TV reporter.
«No, no. Would you yourself want to be among them and get conscripted together, dine sitting next to each other in the canteen? Personally, I don’t. All normal men are ready to stand up for Lithuania, and they (bleep)….I don’t know, I don’t want to end up in such a situation,» voiced his opinion on the incandescent issue another pal.
Lukas, a stocky young man, suggested in front of Lrytas.lt cameras that even if a fellow gay serviceman did not harass him in the barracks, he would feel, nevertheless, calmer on the bunk if all the men around him were straight.
Giedrius, also a to-be conscript, was one among the few who said he does not see «a difference» between the orientations, saying, «I don’t see any difference. Evryone’s human, that’s what matters to me,» he said.
Asked by Klaipeda.lt daily whether the test is part of the medical quest to find out the conscript’s sexual orientation, Kestutis, Ramanauskas, a seasoned psychiatrist in Klaipeda conscripts’ precinct, agreed that the test is part of thescreening.
«If the results appear to be positive, I just let them (men with likely homosexual orientation) go. Though they say that there is no illness (with the orientation), but it is, as a matter of fact. Deviations of psycho-behavior are not the orientation itself, albeit others do think so. The thing is such a man would be turned into an object of ridicule in the army and he won’t make there nine months,» the Lithuanian psychiatrist says.
Speaking on the subject, Andrius Jurgaitis, a military psychologist, paid attention to the servicemen’s duty to deal with arms, aim with them at the target and fulfill different orders like do push-ups, for example.
«Imagine that the sergeant raises his voice (during a drill), so that kind of men (more feminine) – well, I am not implying that it would be the case- might start crying or take it very sensitively and will live it through hard. So, obviously, the situation would be a very difficult one for the serviceman,» Jurgaitis said.
Daiva Morozoviene, a psychiatrist, reasoned that «a real soldier» is being portrayed as someone very tough and goal-oriented.
«Femininity, perhaps, is more related to having doubts and in-determinedness,» the psychiatrist pouted.
Meanwhile, Tomas Reves, a member of the Board of Lithuanian Gay League, called the testing to a relic of the Soviet past, when people were widely stereotyped.
He admitted that many gay men feel uneasy about being outed during the service and therefore shun it.
With the ruckus over the test in Lithuanian media, Juozas Olekas, the Lithuanian Defence Minister, hurried to say that the Lithuanian Army does not discriminate anyone on the ground of sexual orientation and both heterosexual and homosexual persons are welcome.
«In all the laws and orders, there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both heterosexual and homosexual persons can serve in the Army. We do not apply the principle of sexual orientation when deciding who fit the service,» Olekas told Lithuanian media.
Asked to weigh in on the test questions, inquiring the lads whether they ever thought of being woman, also if they ever felt like having predilection to pluck flowers and other questions of that sort, the minister, a surgeon by profession, replied the (questions) aim to evaluate the conscript’s psychological condition and fitness for the military service.
But the medics, however, emphasize that admitting homosexuality does not mean the conscript can walk away from the draft.
«It is not about the orientation, but the feminine side of the youth,» they underline.
Meanwhile, Vilius Kočiubaitis, the chair of Military Medicine Expertise Commission, insisted to Delfi.lt, the Lithuanian news website, that all the conscripts have to do to see their fitness for the military is to ask them to answer four questions. First, on right to possess a weapon, second, ability to drive and have a driving license , third, engagement in sports and, the last, on the medicine being consumed.
The expert notes that health requirements Lithuania has for its conscripts are not that low as those in Sweden, for example.
He also notes that the youth, nowadays, is considerably physically weaker that the generation from 18 years ago, for example.
The doctor notes that young men of conscription age tend now to have more often impaired vision and vertebra distortions.
Meanwhile, some gay men in the LGBT community, who are likely to get drafted, likewise the most homophobic conscripts quoted above, laugh at the test, insisting the Ministry of Land Defence should have drawn up its policy on gay servicemen.
«If we want to be up to the inclusion, then Lithuania should have adopted a policy similar to the one the US had had: «Don’t tell, don’t ask.» Affirming that both homosexual and heterosexual men can serve in the army does not sound credible to me,» a post under one of the stories on the test read.
Asked whether the Lithuanian Land Defence Minister considers passing a similar policy to the US’s «Don’t ask, don’t tell», which is now defunct, Vaidotas Linkus, the Defence Minister’s Communications adviser, told BNN he was not “aware” such a document is being considered.
«The Ministry believes the existing laws ruling out discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation suffice,» the adviser told.