Richard Moore, the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), has issued a deeply moving and historic apology on behalf of the British Security Service and to the many LGBTQI individuals that were prevented from serving in intelligence agencies until 1991, under a ban he described as being “wrong, unjust and discriminatory”.
“Today, I apologise 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.” Moore said.
Marking the 30 year anniversary of lifting the vetting bar to LGBT+ employees in intelligence agencies in 1991, I apologise on behalf of #MI6 for the way LGBT+ colleagues and fellow citizens were treated, and express my regret for everyone whose life was affected #LGBTHM21 pic.twitter.com/bLsnNeY8RJ
— Richard Moore (@ChiefMI6) February 19, 2021
Moore continued by describing the effect of the ban as having “blighted lives and shattered dreams in tribute to the extraordinary resilience and loyalty to service and country of LGBT+ colleagues past and present.”
The MI6 chief said he had chosen LGBT History Month to offer both praise and contrition to those who were wronged by the ban, and timed the apology to mark 30 years since the ban was lifted.
Moore, continued, labelling the security organisations history of homophobia as being “misguided” and based on nothing more than a discriminatory theory that seeks to validate claims hat both gay and lesbian spies were somehow more susceptible to blackmail than their heterosexual contemporaries
Though the apology made for a powerful movement, nothing will ever be diminished from the hurt caused in those 24 yeas it took the British Secret Service to catch up to rest of of the country, which decriminalised homosexuality in 1967. The unwillingness to follow the Government’s lead further perpetuated stigma and continued types of discrimination designed to weaken the rights of LGBTQI individuals and communities.
On when the ban was eventually lifted in 1991, Moore elaborated, saying there were many ‘misguided’ policies which have all been demonstrated to limit the types of talent available to Britain’s spy services.
These policies have also been clamed to have led to certain staff, who even after the ban was lifted in 1991 still suffered unfair treatment had they came out later in the career, if for whatever reason they chose not to disclose such information during the vetting processes.
“That treatment fuelled a reluctance to be their true selves in the workplace. This was also unacceptable.
As an apology so long overdue, Moore’s speech was met with congratulation and applause by many both within and outside of British Secret Services. Those praising MI6 included Sir Ian McKellen, who said in an interview with Moore that the pair posted to Twitter, that “he believed the the moment of MI6 lifting its ban on gay spies as being pivotal, in having helped the overall battle for LGBTQI rights.”