Russia Denies 'Probing' Soldiers' Sex Life
General view of Russian Defence Ministry offices in Moscow, Russia, 07 November 2012. EPA/BGNES
Russia's Defense Ministry dismissed on Friday media reports that it would seek to determine the sexual orientation of its soldiers by inspecting their tattoos, and insisted it was only concerned with protecting their health.
A highly-placed Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti commanding officers and their assistants would only be concerned with "a soldier's health and his appearance, and not his sexual experience and his sexual orientation."
Tattoos and bodily inspections were, he said, the responsibility of military doctors, and commanders shoud consult them if they have concerns about their soldiers' health.
A report in the Izvestia daily earlier this week suggested the military's new inspection guidelines would include checks of soldiers' tattoos on "intimate parts of the body" which could reveal signs of homosexuality.
"The reasons for getting tattoos could indicate a low cultural and educational level," according to army guidelines quoted by Izvestia. "If the influence of external stimulating motives is determined, for example, persuasion or direct coercion, this can indicate the malleability of a young man, his inclination to submit to another's will."
Tattoos on intimate parts of the body such as near the face, sexual organs and buttocks, "may signal not only definite personality disorders but also about possible sexual deviation," it said.
The guidelines also classify early sexual experience and uncontrolled sexual behavior as a sign of a "mental instability," on a par with alcohol addiction, and a tendency toward suicide and robbery.
The guidelines recommend officers talk to their conscripts and ask them about their private life, family, success at school, sexual experience and relations with girlfriends.
"In closed male communities sexual minorities cause unnecessary tension and negatively affect the moral atmosphere. Soldiers start thinking not about their service but about irrelevant things," a military psychologist told Izvestia.
The appearance of the guidelines comes as Russia's lower house of parliament approved in the first reading on Friday a bill banning propagation of "homosexual propaganda" among minors.
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