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Now, MI5 'to recruit' gay spies

world Updated: Aug 17, 2008 12:07 IST
Islamist terrorism

In its latest bid to attract a broader range of applicants to combat the threat of Islamist terrorism since the London bombings three years back, British intelligence service MI5 is to recruit gay spies.

The agency has hired the country's leading gay group, Stonewall, to help it recruit homosexuals and encourage spies to come out from the closet and open up about their sexuality, according to a senior British government official.

"The service (MI5) seeks to reflect the broad range of the United Kingdom society which it serves," leading newspaper 'The Sunday Times' quoted the unnamed government official at Whitehall as saying.

MI5's decision to take in gays followed the success of its earlier drive to recruit British Muslims and speakers of Asian languages to fight the war against terror since July 7, 2005's London bombings.

Until the early 1990s, homosexuals were barred from sensitive government jobs because of fears that they would be vulnerable to blackmail.

Moreover, in the past homosexual staffers were nervous about revealing their sexual orientation to colleagues because it might lead to claims that they had lied to recruiters when they joined.

But Stonewall's Director Ben Summerskill said: "There is no reason why there shouldn't be a lesbian or gay director general. I am optimistic that in ten to 15 years their (MI5's) employment profile will look very much like modern Britain.

"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."