Gay spies come in from the cold


MI6 with Rainbow Flag | Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images | 17016

A ban on gay men and women serving in Britain’s intelligence and security services was in place until 1991. The recruitment restriction was kept in force following a series of Cold War spy scandals involving gay men.

At least two of the Cambridge Five spy ring, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, were gay, while a third, Donald Maclean, is believed to have been bisexual. Being gay was seen in Whitehall at the time as leaving people vulnerable to blackmail.

Now they can be out at work. Gay spies work better when they can be open about their sexuality, says C, the head of MI6. Alex Younger – C – said it was important his staff were able to be “authentic” at work despite having to hide their real job from the outside world.

“Human intelligence is key to MI6’s success and we cannot be successful if we are unable to be authentic in our working lives. Here in MI6, we understand that people perform better when they can be themselves, within a working environment that accepts staff for who they are.”