German army to take part in ‘sex seminar’

The Defence Ministry announced plans this week to hold the seminar, which is called “Sex orientation and identity in the army”, and is scheduled for January 31st.

The event will begin with a keynote speech from Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen herself, followed by a workshop and a podium discussion with high-ranking representatives from politics, economics, and lobby groups.

“The Bundeswehr [German army] is reflective of society and just as diverse as Germany itself,” the Defence Minstry wrote in a statement.

“The sexual orientations of the population are also represented among troops. Whether homo-, bi- or transsexual, the capabilities of all members of the Bundeswehr are needed and should be systematically used.”

Army Chief of Staff Volker Wieker is expected to attend, as are the military bishops and the head of the Federal Anti-discrimination agency.

The initiative has however come under fire from some soldiers and members of the public, with the Bild tabloid reporting that some had taken to social media to make fun of the seminar. Some also criticized the seminar because of the perceived obligation to attend.

A spokeswoman from the Defence Ministry declined to comment on the Bild report to The Local.

Since Germany ended conscription six years ago, the Bundeswehr has struggled to attract new recruits. In recent years, as the country has sought to play a larger military role internationally in efforts such as the fight against Isis, the Defence Ministry has hoped to boost numbers through increased spending and perks for soldiers.

The ministry noted that fostering diversity of sexual orientation within the forces could also help appeal to new troops.

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