`I'm gay, and I'm happy for my constituents to know about it'

In the run-up to a Commons debate on lowering the homosexual age of consent, another MP comes out of the closet

THE LABOUR MP Gordon Marsden yesterday publicly acknowledged that he was gay, becoming the second politician in a week to confirm his homosexuality.

Mr Marsden, the MP for Blackpool South, used an interview in his local paper to go on the record about his sexuality, and said that it was not a defining influence on his politics. Earlier, David Borrow, the 45-year- old Labour MP for Ribble South in Lancashire, also declared his homosexuality.

The men join a growing list of politicians who have come out of the closet. Chris Smith, Stephen Twigg and Ben Bradshaw are all openly gay, and the environment minister Angela Eagle came out last year in an interview with The Independent.

But the former Conservative MP and journalist Matthew Parris said yesterday that coming out was so routine it had ceased to be interesting. "Labour MPs seem to be coming out all over the place," he said. "Some of them are people we have never even heard of before but we are in a new climate of sexual liberation and it could well be a bid for some personal publicity."

Angela Mason, the director of Stonewall, said that homosexuality was becoming more accepted in all walks of life and that had filtered back to Parliament.

"People are just refusing to live their lives in the closet any more, and thousands are coming out in all areas and claiming equality," she said. "Parliament is simply reflecting those changes."

She suggested that a forthcoming vote on lowering the age of homosexual consent from 18 to 16 had precipitated Mr Marsden's and Mr Borrow's decisions.

"They both wanted to be able to speak in the debate and discuss the issue openly," she said.

Mr Marsden, a former historian and lecturer who won an 11,616 majority at the last election, said there was no reason why his constituents should not know of his sexuality.

"Many people in Blackpool already know - I believe my constituents have the right too. I have made no attempt to hide it or mislead people," he said. "This is merely the first time I have gone on record and spoken publicly about it."

He said he shared a home with his long-term partner, named only as Richard, in Brighton. They met 12 years ago in London.

"I'm a politician first and a gay man second. I am not a single-issue MP. Being gay is part and parcel of what I am, who I am."

His declaration would come as no surprise to those who knew him best, he added. "I don't lead a double life. Most of them know. Some have met my partner. But a politician stands for election, not their partners, or their parents. They have a right to lives of their own."

Even the Conservative party seems to be relaxing its stance on the issue of homosexuality, although no Tories in the current House have admitted to being gay. In the last parliament, one Tory MP, Michael Brown, admitted to being gay. He is currently writing parliamentary sketches for The Independent.

Famous five

Environment minister, Angela Eagle, 37, (Wallasey): "I'm in a long-term and happy relationship. I happen to be with a woman."

Ben Bradshaw, 36, (Exeter): "Gayness is now mainstream: why behave as though we're still in the ghetto?"

Stephen Twigg, 30 (Enfield Southgate): "I think it is positive if public figures can say they are lesbian or gay."

Culture minister Chris Smith, 46, (Islington South): "Gay men are different - that doesn't mean we are not as valid as any other citizen."

David Borrow, 45, (South Ribble): "I think it is appropriate at this point to be honest with the people of South Ribble."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before