A sailor with Chile’s navy has announced he is gay, a rare public declaration in the socially conservative South American nation.
Chile has traditionally been a tough place for homosexuals, although the country decriminalized gay sex in 1999. The killing of a gay man in 2012 set off a national debate that prompted Congress to pass a hate crimes law.
On Wednesday, 24-year-old sailor Mauricio Ruiz told reporters he hoped the disclosure about his sexuality will dispel myths that gays can’t be effective members of the armed forces.
Ruiz was accompanied by gay activists at the press conference for his announcement, which he said was not an easy step to take but one he felt was necessary. He said that “in life there is nothing better than to be yourself.”