MI6 has flown the transgender flag from its HQ for the first time, and says that welcoming trans and non-binary spies to the service has helped make it stronger.
Boss Richard Moore – also known by the initial “C” for Controller – told of his pride in his staff after ordering the flag to be flown to mark Transgender Day of Visibility.
Mr Moore, 57, said in a message online: “We’re proud of our trans and non-binary colleagues and committed to providing an inclusive workplace where you can be your true self.
“Diversity makes us more effective, inclusion makes us stronger.”
The flag – made up of pale blue, pink and white stripes – was flown on Wednesday outside MI6’s London HQ on the River Thames at Vauxhall Cross.
The blue and pink in the flag represent male and female, while the white represents those who are transitioning, those who do not identify as male or female, and people whose anatomy at birth did not identify them as either.
In February, Mr Moore became the first UK spy chief to apologise for past treatment of LGBT+ people – who were banned from the service until 1991, despite same-sex relationships being decriminalised 24 years earlier.
It was claimed they would be susceptible to blackmail and would be a national security threat.
Mr Moore acknowledged the ban had “blighted lives and careers”.
MI6 has flown the rainbow flag for annual gay pride celebrations since 2015. Campaign group Stonewall last year hailed it as one of the top 100 employers for LGBT+ staff.
Last month the Bank of England unveiled its £50 note honouring leading wartime codebreaker Alan Turing, who was sacked from spy agency GCHQ after being convicted in 1952 of having a gay relationship.
He killed himself two years later. Turing was pardoned by the Queen in 2013 and will appear on the new £50 note.