GCHQ intelligence agency lit up with rainbow colours to mark IDAHOT

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Just over twenty years since GCHQ began employing out gay people, the agency is lit up with rainbow colours to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

The lighting display will last the week at the Cheltenham-based “doughnut”, as a symbol of the The Government Communications Headquarters’ commitment to equality and diversity.

It will be lit up this evening with the rainbow colours.

A statement for GCHQ said the lighting display was intended to show pride in the agency’s diverse employees, and that “diversity is not merely accepted at GCHQ, but is actively promoted in its workforce.”

Being openly gay would stop people being employed at GCHQ until the early 1990s.

Sir John Dermot Turing, the nephew of Alan Turing, the gay computer genius and codebreaker who worked at GCHQ, said he was “delighted” by the gesture.

Alan Turing killed himself after being sentenced to chemical castration for being gay.

Sir John said: “My uncle made a crucial contribution to the safety of the nation when he worked for GCHQ’s forerunner… but due to society’s attitude at that time he was forced to hide his sexuality.

“It is important that his successors at GCHQ today are free to be themselves, and therefore bring their talents to such vital work.”

Robert Hannigan, Director GCHQ, said: “World-leading innovation in technology absolutely requires diversity. That was true for GCHQ when Alan Turing tackled Enigma for us and it is just as true today. I’m proud of our diverse and creative workforce.”

Paul, a GCHQ Pride member, said: “It’s great to work in a modern organisation that values people for their talent. I love that I can be myself at GCHQ and work in an environment where the Alan Turings of today can unleash their full potential. I know our Pride network fully supports this event; it sends a strong message that we uphold the values of the society that we preserve and protect.

“I see what’s going on in the world and it really drives me; those who would do us harm do not share Britain’s values. I can think of a number of intelligence agencies around the world that probably won’t be marking IDAHOT.”