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Mon 20 Dec, 2010
By Newsdesk

“Growing up in the ’60s, it just wasn’t done

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MP Nigel Evans reveals he is gay, as parliament help group is launched
CONSERVATIVE MP Nigel Evans yesterday described how his South Wales upbringing made it tough for him to reveal his sexuality.

The 53-year-old, who grew up in Townhill, Swansea, publicly came out yesterday, the day before a new help group, Parli-Out, is launched for gay politicians and Westminster staff.

He said of his early background: “It was hard enough being a Tory, let alone being gay. It wasn’t so much ‘the only gay in the village’ as the ‘only Tory in Swansea’.

“Growing up in the ’60s, it just wasn’t done. There were just as many gay politicians as there are now but none of them was out. I realised I was gay when I was about 12 or 13, though at the time I wished I wasn’t.
The politician said he was also encouraged after discussing it with rugby star Gareth Thomas, who came out last year. He said: “If people like Gareth, who was married, can come out, it should be no big deal for me.”

Mr Evans said yesterday he hoped his decision to publicly admit he is gay would help others to be open after revealing a Labour MP had threatened to “out” him.

Mr Evans, a deputy speaker in the House of Commons, is a vice-president of the new ParliOut initiative, launched yesterday by Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Evans, whose sexual orientation was an open secret to many in Parliament, would not name the Labour MP he claimed threatened to out him.

He said: “The MP was saying to anyone who would listen, ‘Why is it that Nigel Evans leads a life whereby he is gay to some people and not others?’

“I could not afford it to be used as leverage against me. I don’t want any other MP to face that kind of nastiness again.

The ParliOut group is the first support organisation for gay politicians, their staff and other parliamentary workers and was set up with the help of gay rights charity Stonewall.

Mr Evans, who becomes the 22nd openly-gay MP in the Commons, said yesterday the spur to his decision to finally come out publicly as gay was a fellow Tory MP asking if he should include his name on a list of the most powerful gay politicians.

He said: “I thought, this is just daft. I am not going to live a lie any more.”

A spokesman for Stonewall said: “We are delighted people in public life now feel open about their sexuality in a way they did not before. It is a pleasant surprise that there are now more openly gay Tory MPs than in all the other parties put together.”

Openly gay Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, a board member of ParliOut, wrote on twitter: “Glad to see Nigel Evans is ‘coming out’. An open secret in Parliament for years.”

Mr Evans said he regretted supporting the abolition of Section 28, which aimed to stop the promotion of homosexuality in schools. He said: “We shouldn’t have been telling young people that being gay was wrong

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Source: Wales online


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