UK armed forces recruits to be asked if they are gay

Move introduced in bid to foster greater tolerance within the military, but recruits will be allowed to ‘prefer not to say’

  • The Guardian,
British troops
The British armed forces only allowed gay soldiers to openly serve in 2000. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Recruits to the British armed forces will be asked whether they are gay in a move to improve diversity in the military.

Details of the service personnel’s sexual preference will be stored, and recruits will have the option to “prefer not to say”. The measure has been introduced in a bid to foster greater tolerance within the armed forces, which have allowed gay soldiers to openly serve since 2000.

Recruits will also be invited to provide additional information on how open they feel they can be regarding their sexual orientation. The information will not be visible on individual personal records or to chain of command or managers, and will be anonymised before being collated to ensure no one can be identified by their personal diversity information.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said: “The MoD proudly encourages diversity at all levels. Service personnel are now encouraged to declare their sexual orientation. Although this is not mandatory, collecting this data will give us a better understanding of the composition of our armed forces and help ensure our policies and practices fully support our personnel.”

This move to encourage recruits to declare their sexual orientation was introduced last November. The armed forces said it believed the new policy would shed new light on its workforce and help create a more inclusive organisation.