Canadian soldiers face “gay bashing” charges

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Two Canadian soldiers on leave from Afghanistan have been arrested and charged with beating up a gay man in Amsterdam.

The men, both 22, were confirmed by Dutch police to have been arrested on May 26th and charged with attempted manslaughter, attempted criminal negligence causing bodily harm and public violence.

Dutch media report that prosecutors have pushed for an eight-month jail term for one of the offenders, while the other soldier faces six weeks in prison.

The soldiers have already spent 60 days in a Dutch jail, but will have to stay in the Netherlands until their legal situation has been resolved.

The incident is notable as Canada has provided more legal rights for LGBT people than many other liberal nations.

Since 2003 military chaplains have been allowed to bless same-sex couples, with the first same-sex military marriage occurring in 2005 between a sergeant and a warrant officer.

In fact military attitudes in neighbouring USA have been more damaging, with a report in 2005 revealing that the service lost 10,000 gays and lesbians due to its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Ottawa Citizen revealed that the military have not provided the soldiers with their legal defence.

Canadian Defence Department official Jillian Van Acker said that they were paying their own expenses and added: “they were provided with Dutch lawyers and have been receiving assistance from Dutch and Canadian authorities.”