domestic spy agency wants gay recruits to know: It's time to
come out of the closet.
them for decades over worries of blackmail, MI5 is now
asking gay and lesbian people to consider a career as a spy,
promising the chance to fight terrorists, protect
their country -- and earn a decent salary, plus
As part of an
ongoing recruitment drive, MI5 is already wooing women,
minorities, and people with language skills. The fact that
they're now reaching out to Britain's gay community is
long overdue, said Peter Tatchell, a London-based gay
"Until a decade
ago, gay people were seen as a security threat, and as
recently as two decades ago, they were being witch-hunted
and sacked from the security services," he said
"It was part of
the Cold War mentality that saw security threats,
traitors, and spies everywhere," he said. "Gay people were
regarded as vulnerable to blackmail, even if they were open
and out about their sexuality."
Britain had some
infamous gay agents during that era, such as Guy Burgess
and Anthony Blunt. The two men were caught spying for the
The spy agency is
shaking off its clubby image and becoming more
representative of the community it serves, said Ben
Summerskill, chief executive officer the gay rights
group Stonewall, which publishes a job hunting guide
that includes the spy agency as a prospective employer.
experience of them is that they're not John le Carre,
Graham Greene -- it's not that sort of tableau anymore,"
Summerskill said Monday.
Stonewall also is
working with MI5 to create a workplace environment that
is supportive of gay people.
has about 3,500 staff, twice what it had in 2001. The new
drive comes two years after MI5 began publicly targeting
women for recruitment, placing posters in gyms and
advertisements in sports magazines that featured a
collects Britain's foreign intelligence, also is looking for
new hires, and in particular is encouraging applications
from women and minorities.
MI5's website, intelligence officers earn a starting salary
of about 23,000 pounds ($45,000) plus benefits. Applicants
have to be British citizens and must pass a lengthy
intelligence officer at MI5, you'll be faced with some of
the most challenging issues affecting national
security today," the site says. "The decisions you
make will play a major part in our efforts to counter
terrorism, espionage, the spread of weapons of mass
destruction and in protecting the U.K.'s critical national
Garry Hindle, the
head of security and counterintelligence at the Royal
United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies,
said MI5's inclusion in the gay and lesbian job guide
is about inclusion, but it's also about image.
to portray themselves as an open, inclusive
organization that's working for the good of the community,"
Hindle said. But "it does need diverse members of
society to be able to access the diverse members of
society that they may have interest in."
The agency would
say only that "the service seeks to reflect the broad
range of U.K. society which it serves."
include translators, computer specialists, and
surveillance officers. (AP)