The order follows pressure from gay rights campaigners who claimed the Defence Council Instructions - known as the 'Hello Sailor Handbook' - offered naive advice that perpetuated myths about homosexuality.
The MoD insists, however, that its policy of excluding homosexuals from the forces remains in place. A spokesman said: 'Although new guidelines have been introduced and distributed to commanding officers, homosexuality is still considered incompatible with service life.'
Homosexuality in the armed forces was a criminal offence until 1992 and those found guilty were often dishonourably discharged. Since then the policy has changed and homosexuals are given a simple administrative discharge.
Robert Ely, who served in the Army for 20 years and now chairs the gay servicemen's pressure group Rank Outsiders, said: 'We welcome the new guidelines as an improvement but obviously not as far as we would like them to go.
'They pursue homosexuals vigilantly. The Naval Investigations Unit is wasting a massive amount of money and time investigating these matters. They still automatically assume you are going to be a risk . . . Sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual, should only be taken into account when it affects discipline in the front line.'Reuse content