The British intelligence service MI5 is pushing to recruit more LGBT people to the organisation.

MI5 is being advised by Stonewall, the UK’s leading gay equality organisation, on how to attract a more diverse range of applicants.

The intelligence service also wishes to encourage spies to be more open about their sexuality.

This year MI5 will appear in Stonewall’s graduate recruitment guide, which lists gay-friendly employers.

Ben Summerskill, director of Stonewall, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“We are delighted that MI5 have decided to explore the pool of talent within the LGBT workforce.

“We will encourage graduate recruits to work in this area in the future.

“This is a sign that people in all sorts of public services are looking in a different way at how to recruit talented people.

“Previously, public services were delivered by the ‘Man from the Ministery’, who was white and heterosexual; that is now changing.”

Mr Summerskill also told the Times on Sunday:

“I am optimistic that in 10 to 15 years their [MI5’s] employment profile will look very much like modern Britain.

“There is no reason why there shouldn’t be a lesbian or gay director-general.”

Until the early 1990s gays and lesbians were prevented from taking sensitive government jobs as it was believed that they would be vulnerable to blackmail.

Since the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London, MI5 has expanded rapidly, with staff numbers predicted at 3,500 by the end of 2008.

MI5 are working towards diversifying their workforce by recruiting people from all backgrounds with a range of capabilities.

The MI5 recruitment website states: “An in-depth knowledge and understanding of a variety of communities, cultures and languages isn’t just an advantage, it can be absolutely critical.

“At present, we are very keen to speak to people who speak: Arabic (all dialects, and particularly North African), Sorani, Bengali, Urdu with or without Gujarati, Punjabi, Chinese (Mandarin), Somali, Pushto, Persian and Russian.

“We welcome all applications, but would be particularly interested to hear from women, individuals from ethnic minority groups and disabled people.”