Three employes of the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency who had top secret security clearances say they have been temporarily transferred from their positions because they are homosexuals.

A spokesman for the agency, which handles among other things geographical data for major U.S. weapons systems, confirmed that the three employes, two men and a woman, were recently assigned to jobs that require a "less sensitive" security clearance.

Del Malkie, the agency spokesman, declined to say why the three were transferred and said, "We can't discuss pending investigations."

The three employes, Alan J. Savada, 26, Francis L. Magazino, 24, and Roselyn Montgomery, 32, who publicly acknowledge they are homosexuals, said they were transferred shortly after they were called in by agency security officials and questioned about their homosexuality.

The three maintained in separate interviews with a reporter that their sexual preferences have no bearing on their fitness to hold jobs with top secret security clearances.

"What I do sexually has nothing to do with whether I'm going to honor my country," said Magazino, who added that he was never asked about his homosexuality when he received his top secret clearance two years ago.

Magazino and Savada, GS-11s who did mapping-related work, both also said officials asked them to divulge the names of other agency employes who are homosexual. Both said they refused.

"Not only was that an invasion of privacy, but they have no need for that information," Savada said.

Government regulations on civilian homosexual employes in both security and nonsecurity related jobs have been liberalized in recent years, and the burden has shifted to government officials to prove that an employe's sexual preference could impair his or her work, according to gay activists and government officials.

"Homosexuality or any sexual orientation is not in itself a disqualification" for security clearances for civilian government employes, said Joseph L. Morris, general counsel for the federal government's personnel agency.

Morris said that before denying or lifting a security clearance, officials must show that an employe's homosexuality could subject the employe to blackmail or other similar pressures.

In 1980, a middle-level homosexual employe at the National Security Agency was allowed to keep his job after he was investigated and agreed, among other things, to inform his family of his homosexuality.

Malkie said when questions arise about personal matters that could affect employes with security clearances, the Mapping Agency, in accordance with Defense Department policy, transfers those employes to less sensitive posts while the investigation is under way.

He said periodic investigations of employes with security clearances "is not unique to people who are alleged homosexuals" and can include probes of possible financial, mental or drug problems.

Montgomery, who said she had a security clearance during the six years she worked as a telecommunications employe for the Army before joining the mapping agency, said she was told a personal financial debt also contributed to her recent temporary transfer from her position as a GS-6 communications employe in the agency's security office.

Montgomery, Savada and Magazino, who are employed at an agency office in Brookmont, said that their openness about their homosexuality eliminates the threat of blackmail and they resent being investigated.