“I was furious, but in the end I let the comment pass.
“Service personnel are now encouraged to declare their sexual orientation,” though recruits are also allowed a “prefer not to say” option.
The move shows how much attitudes have changed in just 15 years.
Before 2000, openly gay people were banned from service, and those who suspected personnel of being gay had a duty to report them to authorities.
Incidents of aggression against gay personnel are still reported.
In 2013 it was reported that soldier James Wharton was threatened with beatings from servicemen in a rival regiment before Prince Harry stepped into defend him, while in 2009 the Mo D was forced to pay £124,000 to a lesbian soldier for harassment she suffered in the Royal Artillery.
But the Mo D insists it is committed to helping recruits achieve their “full potential irrespective of sexual orientation”, and all three branches of the Forces – Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – featured in Stonewall’s top 100 gay-friendly employers this year.
Commander Douggie Ward, 39, who is currently deployed on operations in the Royal Navy, shares his experience of being out in the Forces: “People think we’re still stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to LGBT personnel.
We’re not - we’re a reflection of the society we serve. “I joined the Royal Navy as a logistics officer in 1997.
At the time, I was living as a straight man and married a woman in 2003, so attitudes towards gay people weren’t something I noticed as much.
“I did know people who were serving and gay, though, even before 2000, when the policy changed to allow them to be completely open.
The policy before that didn’t just affect them - it affected their friends, too, because officially anyone who knew had a duty to inform on them to the service police. “I served in the submarine service, then qualified as a barrister and worked on the legal side in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.