At the third anniversary of the Iraq war, gay and lesbian servicepeople in the US armed forces are facing fewer discharges under the controversial don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

The Boston Globe reported at least 36 openly gay or lesbian servicepeople were retained despite efforts to have them discharged.

According to the Globe, the 36 were among 120 cases investigated by military authorities. In the previous year, just 22 out of 125 soldiers were retained.

The Servicemembers’ Legal Defence Network, an agency that represents gay and lesbian soldiers facing discharge, attributed the rise in retained soldiers to the demands of the Iraq war.

They are under enormous pressure to retain people, the Network’s law and policy director Sharra Greer told the Globe.

They do a cost-benefit analysis and we are hearing the same thing: I really don’t care if you are gay and I am not going to kick you out.

The Globe‘s report comes two weeks after editorials in USA Today and The Washington Post called for an end to the don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

According to The Washington Post’s editorial, a combination of bigotry and inertia keeps the gay ban in place.

Meantime, reports women are almost twice as likely to face discharge under the don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Women make up almost 30 percent of discharges under the policy despite only making up about 15 percent of the military.

Australian servicepeople have been protected from discrimination on the basis of sexuality since 1992. However, while allowed to be openly gay, soldiers have regularly complained of discrimination in areas of partner’s benefits, pensions and counselling services.

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