Cast Doubt, Then Cast Out: MI6’s ‘apology’ is empty of any remorse

MI6 (formally known as the Secret Intelligence Service) is the UK’s foreign intelligence service which spies on and in other countries. Richard Moore (a/k/a “C”), who is head of MI6, recorded a video apology to LGBTQIA people who in the past were forced out of MI6, their careers and lives ruined by witch hunts and false accusations of “being untrustworthy”.

MI6 boss apologises for past ban on LGBT staff

The new head of MI6 has apologised publicly to officers who were thrown out of the spy agency before 1991 when it operated a “wrong, unjust and discriminatory” ban on LGBT staff in its ranks.

Richard Moore, also known as C, released a short video statement acknowledging that “committed, talented, public-spirited people had their careers and lives blighted” because they were told gay people could not serve.

Problems continued after 1991, Moore acknowledged. LGBT staff who were employed when the ban ended were treated badly for not previously disclosing their sexuality, he said, and others who joined after 1991 were made to feel unwelcome.

During the cold war it was believed that same-sex relationships were a risk to national security, partly because of the prejudices of the time and partly because it was thought the information could be used as a tool for blackmail.

The ban persisted for nearly a quarter a century after homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967. MI6 said it was unable to say how many people had been kicked out or prevented from joining for security reasons.

Given MI6’s past actions, I’m untrustworthy of their motives in issuing this “apology”.   His words from two parts of the video:

Same sex relationships were decriminalized in 1967.  But until 1991, there was a security bar to LGBT+ individuals serving in our intelligence agencies because of the misguided view that they would be more susceptible to blackmail than straight people.  It meant that until 1991 being openly LGBT+ in MI6 would cause you to lose your job or prevent you from being allowed to join in the first place.

[. . .]

Even after the ban was lifted in 1991, its effects lingered. Some staff who chose to come out were treated badly for not having previously disclosed their sexuality during their security vetting. Others who joined in the period post-1991 were made to feel unwelcome. That treatment fueled a reluctance to be their true selves in the workplace.

Well, MAYBE if MI6 and society in general weren’t disciminating against LGBTQIA people and we could live openly, people wouldn’t have secrets and you couldn’t compromise them.  You can’t blackmail people who have nothing to hide.   The UK government’s circular illogic (“Why were you hiding it all this time instead of letting us fire you?  You must be untrustworthy.”) tells me they should catch the name MI-22 (massively inconsistent).

The weed goes on to say this, again in two separate parts of the video:

Being LGBT+ did not make these people a national security threat. Of course not. But the ban did mean that we, in the intelligence and diplomatic services, deprived ourselves of some of the best talent Britain could offer, ready to serve but denied that opportunity.

[. . .]

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.

The carefully scripted text and intentional separation of related points tells me they didn’t want them connected.  Because this isn’t an apology, it’s a recruitment video.  It’s an admission that they have a shortage of intelligent and skilled people.  And the ONLY reason they are changing their police is a shortage of warm bodies, just like every military that now accepts LGBTQIA applicants.  If the UK government wants LGBTQIA people to sign up, get rid of rightwing bigotry in UK society.

I suspect that MI6 wants to hire LGBTQIA people for the same reason police department used to hire women: dress them up as sex workers.  When LGBTQIA people can live openly and safely in many countries, MI6 needs people to lure them into sexually compromising positions, something cishetero binaries can’t make themselves do.

This applies as much to the US as it does to the UK, after Biden’s “signing statements” in his first month in office.  Obama only changed the US’s policy on LGBTQIA in the military because of recruitment shortages, not “inclusiveness”.  If he could have kept the policies of Bill Clinton and George Bu**sh**  (“don’t ask, don’t tell”, firing translators), he would have.  From 2002:

US army sacks gay Arabic experts

The United States Army has forced six linguists trained to speak Arabic to quit after they admitted that they were gay.The decision comes when American military and intelligence services are suffering from an acute lack of translators and interpreters needed for their war on terror.

The US military has a policy on homosexuality among its personnel – known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” – whereby homosexuals are not barred from serving as long as their sexual orientation remains private.

Three other linguists, two specialising in Korean and one in Mandarin Chinese, were also dismissed – one for being gay and two for being caught together when they should have been in separate rooms.

[. . .]

In the wake of the 11 September terror attacks in Washington and New York the US Government has been frantically trying to recruit more Arabic speakers.

“We face a drastic shortage of linguists, and the direct impact of Arabic speakers is a particular problem,” said Donald R Hamilton, who told Congress of the need for more linguists as part of the National Commission on Terrorism.

Cheetolini’s open hate was obvious, but Biden doesn’t deserve any cheers either.  He’s only changing back to Obama’s policy because Transgender people had proven themselves not to be a problem in the military.  The bigotry of cishetero binary people was, unsurprisingly.

My biggest issue with Biden?  On his first day, he only rescinded Cheeto’s ban on Trans people in the US military.  He waited until much later to do the same about equal rights protections for non-military Trans people (e.g. banning discrimination in housing, employment, health care, etc.).  Biden’s message was clear: “You’re good enough to die for the country, just not good enough to live in it.”  The protections for millions of civilian Trans people should have come first, not protections for thousands in uniform.


  1. jrkrideau says

    people wouldn’t have secrets and you couldn’t compromise them.
    Always struck me as the most sensible idea.