18/08/08

The spy who loved me(n)

So Britain’s spy services are growing up. According to the Financial Times, the domestic spy service MI5 is looking to recruit more gay men and women to the service.

MI5 has hooked up with gay rights lobby group Stonewall to try and get more gays to sign up to stick their noses into other people’s business in the interests of national security. Ben Summerskill, the Director of Stonewall, told The Sun that gays are “good at doing these things in a way that is not conspicuous”.

Not conspicuous. Now that wouldn’t describe a number of my mates… I’m teasing, of course. Though a ban on hiring gays was technically dropped in the early 1990s, this is the first recruitment drive targeting gay men and women. Finally, we’ve realised that the rationale for the ban — that gay people are liabilities because they can easily be blackmailed — holds no water in a society where people’s sexuality is no longer a weapon that can be used against them.

Note that we’re only talking MI5 here (the equivalent of the FBI). The international spy service, MI6, (the UK’s CIA equivalent) has yet to go on a gay recruiting drive, as far as I know. It was MI6 that was so badly scarred by the antics of the Cambridge Five, a group of gay double agents who sold UK secrets to the Soviets in the 1940s and 50s. The gay double agent is so much a trope of spy fiction that I wonder what writers will do when all the closet doors are officially opened.

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This post was published on 18/08/08 in Men, women and others.

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