Newly released cabinet documents reveal how the Keating Government was warned that allowing homosexuals into the military could destroy group cohesion and affect the ability of the Defence Force to attract young recruits.
The 1992 “cabinet-in-confidence” documents outline how Paul Keating’s cabinet grappled over whether to lift a ban on gays and lesbians entering the military.
At the time, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) maintained and enforced a homosexual ban.
Then attorney-general Michael Duffy pushed to overturn the restrictions while then defence minister Robert Ray warned that allowing homosexuals to serve could hamper military recruitment.
“Homosexual behaviour or tendencies destroy the intimate bonding of the group because of the fear that the physical and psychological elements of military cohesion may be misrepresented and mistrusted as sexual in nature and, therefore, intrusive and threatening,” Mr Ray argued in a cabinet submission.
“It is likely that a change in homosexual policy would influence the readiness of parents to permit their children to join the ADF and adversely affect its ability to recruit from the very important under-18 age bracket.”
Cabinet eventually sided with Mr Duffy, deciding to immediately lift the ban.