The Royal Navy has become the first section of the British armed forces to join a scheme protecting gay rights.
It has signed equal rights charity Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to promote fair treatment of lesbian, gay and bisexual recruits.
Gay and lesbian couples with a registered civil partnership will also be able to apply for married quarters, in all armed forces, from the autumn.
Gay people were legally permitted in the UK forces only in 2000.
During the first year of the Navy’s involvement with the programme, seminars, pamphlets and specific advice will be on offer for servicemen.
Stonewall’s chief executive Ben Summerskill said he was optimistic that the Army and the RAF would follow suit.
He said forces staff had become so sophisticated and highly-trained that they could no longer afford to lose them as a result of prejudice.