LGBT History Month: Security and Sexuality - Tales from the FOI Archive

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

To mark LGBT History Month 2020, the University of Salford is hosting an exhibition of intelligence-related material from its Freedom of Information (FOI) intelligence and security collection on campus. The exhibition illustrates some examples of the unfair prejudice gay men faced in the civil service throughout the 20th century. The language used in the exhibition in no way represents the views of the University but focuses on the changing attitudes in society and forces attendees to reflect on the significant change that has taken place in previous decades. 

The exhibition, starting with a public talk on Wednesday 22 February, includes material obtained through the UK Freedom of Information Act (2000), now housed in the University of Salford's FOI Intelligence and Security Archive. The collection is made up of hundreds of papers released by government to University of Salford researchers and is open to journalists, academics and students by appointment. 

The event explores the origins of the "bar" in the civil service to gay men in the 1950s, and examines the stories of officials affected. The talk also uses newly released material to tell the story of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's change of heart in the 1980s and the final end to the ban that only ended in 1991. 

Dr. Chris Murphy, programme leader of Salford's MA in Intelligence and Security Studies said: "Perhaps the most interesting thing about these documents is how they illustrate the extent to which something that’s considered to constitute a ‘threat’ to security can be socially constructed. Homosexuality isn’t really the issue here - rather, it’s the prevailing cultural attitudes towards it which create the problem in the first place".

Dr. Dan Lomas, Lecturer in International History and specialist on UK security, said "it's important to use LGBT History Month to celebrate the diversity we take for granted, but this is also an opportunity to recognize how far we have come as a society, and, importantly, to acknowledge past wrongs so that we don't go back there again". 

The public talk, "LGBT History Month: Security and Sexuality: Tales from the FOI Archive', is on Wednesday 19 February, 2020 at 2pm at the University of Salford. Tickets for this free event can be obtained through the Eventbrite page here. The exhibition telling the story of the Foreign Office, security and sexuality will run for the rest of LGBT History Month and is open 08.00 - 18.00 in the Working Bee Study Space, 1st Floor Chapman Building, University of Salford until Friday 28 February. 

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.