In Belarus, in order to be employed, in addition to other documents, male citizens are required to present their military service card. According to the regulatory documents of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus, when entering into an employment agreement, the employer is obligated to request and the citizen must provide, in addition to a personal identification document, the military record documents (for individuals subject to military service and conscription) – commonly known as the “military service card”.

This requirement gives rise to two interconnected issues: gender-based discrimination and the inability to be employed for a person who does not want to serve in the army for reasons of conscientious objection.

The demand to present a military service card in order to get employed can be viewed as an effect of discrimination of men for a number of reasons:

  1. Gender-related discrimination. The requirement to present a military service card imposed on men only violates the principle of gender equality. It means that women who are not liable for military service, do not have to provide additional documents in order to get employed. Such difference in the requirements is based only on sex attribute, therefore, can be viewed as discriminatory.
  2. Inequality before the law. If the requirement to present a military service card is imposed on male citizens only, it creates inequality before the law. In equal conditions, men and women should present the same documents in order to get employed.
  3. Non-compliance with job requirements. A military service card may indicate the person possesses certain skills and qualifications acquired during military service, it’s called military occupational specialty. However, in the majority of the cases, the demand to present the military service card has no direct connection with the requirements of a specific job. It may lead to the situation, when men who did not serve in the army get excluded from an opportunity to get a certain job, even if they are qualified for it.
  4. Discrimination according to international standards. International standards, such as Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 111 of the International Labour Organization forbid discrimination based on gender or any other factor. Therefore, if the requirement to present a military service card imposed on men only is a form of such discrimination, it can be considered a contravention of international standards.

However, everything we have listed above constitutes European view of the situation, based on universal human values. In the Belarusian reality people have other problems. First of all, men that are objecting to military service for reasons of conscience, automatically have problems with legal employment.

If a candidate for a job has his military service card and presents it in the HR department, he will get employed, no problems there. Nevertheless, sometime later, the HR department of the enterprise is going communicate the information about his employment to the military conscription and enlistment office, which will know that a certain person is now working at a certain place. The military conscription and enlistment office will then conduct a verification check and find out that the person is objecting to military service or avoiding, let’s say, another reserve training. Now, the military commissars will know for sure where to find that person.

There is another variant, when a person consciously decides not to connect his life to the machinery of state violence, and therefore just does not get a military service card in his youth. The number of such people in Belarus is relatively low, but they do exist. So, it turns out, they do not have an opportunity to get legal employment at all, as it is obligatory to present a military service card when applying for a job. You have no military card? Nobody will employ you.

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