The Ministry of Defence could only find 20 gays in the Navy

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Just 20 recruits across the UK’s Navy, Army and Air Forces identify as gay or lesbian, according to spurious official data kept by the the Ministry of Defence.

The Armed Forces supposedly collect data on the diversity of new recruits, as part of a recently-implemented diversity monitoring policy

However, data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act this month raises serious questions about the integrity of the process.

The MoD stats assert that of the 13,780 recruits who joined the Royal Navy, RAF and British Army in the year from April 2015, there were just ten declared gay men and ten declared lesbians, rounded to the nearest ten. 740 declared they were not gay or lesbian, while 13,020 failed to complete the survey.

If taken seriously, the data point would amount to less than 0.1% of recruits since monitoring began identifying as LGB – fewer than the number who marched at Pride in London in uniform earlier this year.

The MoD claims: “The Sexual Orientation field is self-declared and non-mandatory. As a result, the latest overall declaration rate for UK Regular Forces is low; 17.1 percent as at 1 November 2017.

“The Sexual Orientation for 94.4% of the personnel reported is unknown and therefore the figures for ‘Gay Man’, ‘Gay Woman/Lesbian’ and ‘Other’ are highly likely to be underestimates.”

It adds: “We seek to recruit and retain talented personnel to play their part in safeguarding the UK’s interests regardless of sexual identity, and are proud that the Armed Forces and the MOD are recognised for our positive culture and attitude towards LGBT people.

“The Naval Service was recognised as a Top 10 Employer in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 and the Army was ranked 32nd.”

An Army General recently urged more LGBT people to apply to join the military, saying that diversity helps make the Army more effective.

Lt Gen James Everard said: “[Diversity] in our ranks gives us a breadth of understanding and capability we don’t get in any other way … we need to reach into [places] that probably people would have said were non-traditional – away from the working class of Middlesbrough and all that sort of stuff and into a more diverse and broader range of characters. That’s hugely important for us.”

Of the reasons to recruit more LGBT soldiers, he said that “operational effectiveness is at the top of the pile”.