Chilean Sailor Comes Out, Makes History

Mauricio Ruiz is first openly gay member of Chilean Armed Forces

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2014 11:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Chilean sailor Mauricio Ruiz is the first person enlisted in the Chilean Armed Forces to come out as homosexual, because, as he says, gays have "no reason to hide," the BBC reports. "We can do anything, be marines or in any branch (of the military). We deserve as much respect as anyone else," he said in a television news conference yesterday. "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."

Since the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999, the AP adds, conservative Chile's attitudes toward gays have changed—for example, a new law was approved in 2012 that bans discrimination, including against gays, and the 2012 murder of a 25-year-old gay man, Daniel Zamudio, angered the nation. Ruiz's announcement has the backing of the Chilean Navy, which, a Chilean gay activist says, makes it "possible for gays and lesbians to be part of the armed forces and (know) that they aren't going to suffer discrimination."

Mauricio Ruiz, 24, a sailor in the Chilean Navy, right, came out publicly as gay during a press conference in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 27, 2014.
Mauricio Ruiz, 24, a sailor in the Chilean Navy, right, came out publicly as gay during a press conference in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 27, 2014.   (AP Photo/Eva Vergara)
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