LONDON (AP) — The head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service apologized Friday to gay spies and aspiring agents who were fired or denied jobs because of their sexuality.
Richard Moore said in a video statement on Twitter that a ban on LGBT spies that lasted until 1991 was “wrong, unjust and discriminatory.”
Moore was appointed last year as C, the code name given to the director of Britain’s overseas intelligence agency — the real-life equivalent of James Bond’s boss, M.
Although same-sex relationships were decriminalised in England in 1967, gay people continued to be barred from working in Britain’s intelligence services on security grounds, because of the view that they were more susceptible to blackmail than straight people.
Moore said that because of that “misguided” view, “loyal and patriotic people had their dreams of serving their country in MI6 shattered.”
“Today, I apologize on behalf of MI6 for the way our LGBT+ colleagues and fellow citizens were treated and express my regret to those whose lives were affected,” he said.
Moore also said homophobia lingered after the ban was lifted, meaning some staff were unable “to be their true selves in the workplace.“
“We still have more to do to become a fully inclusive employer, and my goal for MI6 is to make it a workplace where you can always bring your true self to work,” said Moore.
Because of MI6 secrecy it is not known how many people were affected by the discriminatory policy.