The News Minute | August 28, 2014 | 04:59 pm IST
London: A sailor in Chile has become the first serving member of the Chilean armed forces to announce he is gay, the BBC reported Thursday.
Mauricio Ruiz, 24, said his decision had "not been easy", but he wanted to help fight discrimination against homosexuals.
Ruiz said homosexuals had "no reason to hide".
"We can do anything, be marines or in any branch of the military. We can do whatever profession, and we deserve as much respect as anyone else," Ruiz said at a press conference in the Chilean capital Santiago.
Ruiz said a soldier's willingness to serve the country was most important and not his or her sexual orientation.
Like other parts of Latin America, Chile remains a conservative society, especially towards gay marriage.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has come out in favour of the idea, but the majority of Chileans oppose it, said the BBC.
In 2012, a gay man, Daniel Zamudio, 25, was brutally assaulted and killed in Chile which sparked outrage across the country. Four men were later jailed in October 2013 for his murder.
The Chilean government has approved a new law which has made it a crime to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, appearance or disability.