First member of Chile’s armed forces comes out

A 24-year-old member of the Chilean navy has become the first acting serviceman in that country to come out as gay.

Mauricio Ruiz came out at a press conference in Santiago where he told reporters that it had not been easy for him to come out but added that there was no need for gay men and women to hide their sexuality in the armed forces.

“We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else,” he said.

“In life there’s nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are.”

Ruiz’s statement was authorised by Chile’s navy.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Chile, but the country is still socially conservative, although attitudes are changing, particularly since the vicious homophobic murder in 2012 of Daniel Zamudio, a young gay man in Santiago.