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For its research, Human Rights Watch requested basic information from the U.S. military related to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and anti-gay harassment. Our inquiries were in the form of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. We asked for information and statistics regarding anti-gay harassment, application of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and anti-sodomy statute, complaints procedures, and training on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and to address anti-gay harassment.

In general, the military was unable or unwilling to provide Human Rights Watch with the information we requested.280

The Marines responded in April 2000, one year after the original request. They were only able to provide information regarding separation data (one question answered out of eleven). Among the questions put forth by Human Rights Watch were: "What directives have commanders received about how to respond to incidents of harassment based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation? What procedures are in place for responding to such incidents? How many perpetrators have been disciplined for responsibility in these incidents?" The only response: "Marines report any and all mistreatment in the same manner, through their chain of command."

The Army's response, a year after our request, provided no information regarding the number of incidents of harassment based on sexual orientation or a myriad of other questions.

The Inspector General failed to respond at all to a May 3, 1999 letter requesting information regarding anti-gay harassment.

We also requested information regarding criminal charges of sodomy filed against gay and lesbian servicemembers as opposed to heterosexual members. Since all branches failed to provide information in response to our Freedom of Information Act request, it is impossible to know with any certainty whether gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers are disproportionately charged with the offense of consensual sodomy. In June 1999, the Air Force responded that it could not respond to the questions posed regarding Article 125 sodomy prosecutions because the "database is designed to track military justice actions on active duty military members charged with an offense. Since only the charged offense code is collected, we have no way of verifying aggravating circumstances."

The Defense Department's FOIA office provided a general response to some questions contained in each inquiry sent to the four service branches. It attached a section of the 1999 Annual Report from the Secretary of Defense. In response to our questions regarding harassment based on sexual orientation, the equal opportunity office provided an analysis of "complaint trends" relating to formal complaints alleging sexual harassment and all other discrimination "(e.g., complaints based on race, sex, national origin, and religion) filed by military personnel." According to SLDN, the Office of Equal Opportunity still does not tally anti-gay harassment complaints.281

280 FOIA requests and responses on file with Human Rights Watch.

281 Human Rights Watch telephone inquiry with C. Dixon Osburn, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, December 16, 2002.

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