The revelation that the government’s communications intelligence centre in Cheltenham has an LGBT pride group became a source of amusement during Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s testimony in front of MPs on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Mr Rusbridger was quizzed by the Home Affair Select Committee over the newspaper’s publication of leaks by ex-US security contractor Edward Snowden.
The UK Government claims the Guardian’s actions have damaged national security.
But Mr Rusbridger said the paper had “made very selective judgements” about what to publish from the files taken by Mr Snowden, a former contractor with the US National Security Agency (NSA), and had not revealed the names of any officials.
“We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen,” he said.
During Tuesday’s committee session, Conservative MP Michael Ellis referred to a Guardian article published in August that briefly mentioned how GCHQ had its own LGBT pride group and had links to gay rights charity Stonewall.
It stated: “Last year, GCHQ organised trips to Disneyland in Paris, and its sailing club took part in an offshore regatta at Cowes. It has a chess club, cake sales, regular pub quiz nights and an internal puzzle newsletter called Kryptos. A member of Stonewall since last year, GCHQ has its own Pride group for staff who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
Mr Ellis put it to Mr Rusbridger that the sexual orientation of GCHQ staff and family trips to Disneyland in Paris had been revealed, and that this was “jeopardising” the individuals involved.
Mr Rusbridger replied: “You’ve completely lost me Mr Ellis. There are gay members of GCHQ, that is a surprise?”
The MP said: “It’s not amusing Mr Rusbridger, they shouldn’t have been outed by you or your newspaper.”
The editor replied: “The existence of a Pride group within GCHQ – you can go to (the) Stonewall site, you can find the same information there. I fail to see how that outs a single member of GCHQ.”