Homophobia rife in public life says ex-BP chief

The former chief executive of BP today claimed that homophobia is still rife within public life.

Lord Browne of Madingley said prominent gay men and lesbians feel continued pressure to hide their sexuality to succeed.

He stepped down from his role with the oil giant after failing to win an injunction prevent the publication of details of a gay relationship.

His comments come after the resignation of David Laws - the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Laws was the first high-profile resignation from the coalition Government after allegations surfaced concerning expenses claimed for his male partner.

Writing in the Guardian, Lord Browne, 62, said: "The recent resignation of David Laws... suggests that public figures continue to feel they have no choice but to cover up their sexuality.

"Let's be clear: if he (David) was indeed concealing the fact that he was claiming money for a partner, then he was doing something wrong.

"But it is a great shame that a public figure, a generation younger than me, still feels the need to hide his sexuality."

Lord Browne kept his sexuality out of the public domain until a former partner sold his story three years ago.

The peer singled out business and sport as the two industries with the biggest problems in dealing with homosexuality.

Lord Browne said the business world remains "more intolerant of open homosexuality" than professions such as the media and the arts.

He added that the lack of openly gay sports stars was "extraordinary".