The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is looking to shed its “straight man” image by appealing to more gays and lesbians.

The service wants to increase its share of homosexual staff to at least six out of every 100 prison officers.

They have launched an advertising blitz in gay publications to recruit the gay community in Glasgow, Barlinnie and Edinburgh jails.

Officials are consulting with gay groups to attract workers whose sexuality makes them wary of the image prisons portray. A partnership has been set up with Diversity Champions, a campaign for greater opportunity for homosexuals, and there are plans for a help line for any wardens who want to come out.

The SPS will be the first uniformed service to commit to a campaign to create workplace equality for gay people.

Calum Irving, of gay rights organisation Stonewall Scotland, told the Mirror, “Six per cent of the population is gay, lesbian or bisexual and the ratio should be the same for prison officers. Many inmates can only benefit.”

“The SPS is setting an example to employers that sexuality must not be an issue at work. The stereotype of uniformed services is straight, institutional, tough, white and masculine, but the SPS involvement will go a long way towards giving other organisations the impetus to commit.”

SPS spokesman Jim Dawson said: “We are seen as a macho service … and one difficulty in shedding that image is that people may be frightened to come forward in case they are perceived as weak. The more we break down barriers the better.”

“We live in a diverse society. It is only right that we recruit without discrimination.””