Oscar, Jason, and how Liberace laughed all the way to the bank

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Oscar Wilde must be the most famous homosexual defendant of all time, jailed for his proclivities in 1895.

Jason Donovan, though, is probably the modern world's most famous straight, having proved his heterosexuality in 1992 during a libel case against the Face magazine. However, the singer tried to emphasise that he was not upset by the charge of homosexuality, but that of hypocrisy. The magazine had insinuated that Donovan was a liar and a hypocrite for denying rumours of his homosexuality.

Since winning the case (and handing back the pounds 200,000 damages), Donovan has sought to make it up to the gay community; he gave a long, post-trial interview to a gay radio show and, last year, stepped out to host the Mr Gay UK contest.

David Ashby, then a Tory MP, must regret his day in court in 1995, when he lost a libel action against the Sunday Times over a report that he had shared a bed with another man while on holiday. It was forced to retract that story, but maintained that the MP was a practising homosexual. His wife, Silvana, whom he later divorced, did not help much, telling the court: "My husband fooled me for 28 years."

All this is a far cry from Liberace, who coined the phrase "laughing all the way to the bank" after suing the Daily Mirror in 1959 over an article alleging he was gay.

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