MI5 links up with gay lobby Stonewall
By Chris Irvine
The intelligence service, which deals with counter-terrorism within the UK, has hired Stonewall to try and attract a broader range of candidate.
This year the organisation will appear in Stonewall’s graduate recruitment guide, which lists gay-friendly employers.
Until the early 1990s, gays had been barred from
sensitive government jobs because of fears they would be
open to blackmail – this followed the revelations about
the well-known Cambridge spy ring, the 1950s group of
Cambridge graduates who worked in the intelligence
service. Two of its ringleaders, Guy Burgess and Anthony
Blunt, were both gay.
Ben Summerskill, director of Stonewall, who coincidentally went to school with MI5’s Director-general Jonathan Evans, said: “I am optimistic that in 10 to 15 years their [MI5's] employment profile will look very much like modern Britain. There is no reason why there shouldn’t be a lesbian or gay director-general.”
He added: “People from all minority communities do have experience of getting on with people who are different and of fitting in.
“They are also good at doing these things in a way that is not conspicuous.”
A Whitehall source confirmed MI5 was working with Stonewall, saying: “The service seeks to reflect the broad range of UK society which it serves.”
Stonewall has already been busy, setting up a gay and lesbian “network” at MI5 to work with bosses on policy.
They have also been advising on how to create a working environment where gay officers are allowed to feel comfortable about “coming out.”
Since the July 7 London Underground bombings, MI5 has been expanding rapidly – staff numbers are expected to reach 3,500 by the end of the year, an increase of 2,000 since 2001.
The drive to recruit Muslims and speakers of Asian languages has been well documented but the targeting of the gay community is a new expansion.