Britain’s intelligence monitoring post GCHQ has marked International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) by lighting up its main building in the colours of the rainbow.
The symbolic act comes 24 years after the UK’s three main intelligence agencies, GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 lifted a ban on openly gay people working for them. Now more than 100 gay people are employed at GCHQ’s famous ‘Doughnut’ building in Cheltenham in southern England.
It’s a far cry from the days of the brilliant computer scientist Alan Turing during WWII had to hide his sexuality when working for GCHQ’s forerunner where he played a crucial role in cracking Germany’s secret codes but was later prosecuted for homosexuality.
In a sign of how times have changed a statement from the spy agency said GCHQ was “A modern organisation that does not tolerate discrimination in any form….. We wanted to make a bold statement to show the nation we serve how strongly we believe in this.”
IDAHOT is celebrated on May 17th because that was the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases. The colours of the rainbow have become associated with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender movements since the 1970s.