Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic Report Finds Smooth Transition for Gay Soldiers in Other Countries

Report Identifies Key Factors for Transition in Australia, Canada, Israel, and U.K. and Discusses Open Service within U.N. Peacekeeping and NATO forces


Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, May 13, 2010 –The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic has submitted a report to Congress showing U.S. allies have managed smooth transitions to having gay and lesbian soldiers serve openly in the military.
Based on extensive research into the experiences of Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom, the report, entitled “Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies’ Armed Forces,” concludes that successful transitions to gays and lesbians serving openly involved no change in barracks housing or bathrooms.
Open Service and Our Allies debunks many myths about the difficulty of transitioning to open service. The report reinforces that ending the military’s exclusion of openly gay servicemembers is not only possible but also beneficial to national security,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, Professor and Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. 
In addition, the report found military performance and unit cohesion improved, and discrimination and harassment did not significantly increase.
“We found that the implementation policies for the transition to open service enabled a smooth transition for our allies. We hope that Congress can use these policies as lessons in how to successfully implement the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Donna Azoulay ’10. 
The report also shows that educational and training programs on sexual orientation, alongside an openness about the relationships of gay and lesbian military personnel, eased the transition to gays serving in most of these countries.
“This report adds practical, nuts-and-bolts information to the current research on how foreign militaries transitioned to open service,” said Swathi Sukumar ’10, a Clinic student who co-drafted the report. 
Drawing from its documentation of allies’ efforts, the report makes four specific recommendations to ease the U.S. military’s move to open service:
  • Educational and training programs that include sexual orientation
  • Strong anti-discrimination policies that provide a clear procedure for handling grievances
  • Sexual harassment policies that apply equally to all servicemembers and focus on the inappropriate act rather than the identity of the offender
  • Military support of gay pride activities and gay and lesbian affinity groups within the military. 
“We base our recommendations on what we observed as having worked most effectively for our allies’ militaries,” said Jantira Supawong ’10. 
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic addresses cutting-edge issues in sexuality and gender law through litigation, legislation, public policy analysis and other forms of advocacy. Under the guidance of Goldberg, clinic students have worked on a wide range of projects, from constitutional litigation to legislative advocacy to immigration cases, to serve both individual and organizational clients in cases involving issues of sexuality and gender law.
For more information, please visit: To contact Goldberg: call (212) 854-0411 or email
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.