When Coming out Earns More Status Than Raising a Family; COMMENTARY

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO MCKINSTRY

THE obsession with homosexuality continues to spread across the body politic. A visitor to Westminster might think that nothing else, not even the economy or the NHS, mattered in politics apart from the proclivities of our leaders.

Yet the problem with all discussion about this issue is the way it has become so bedevilled by political correctness. Any objection to any aspect of gay lifestyles, no matter how meekly put, is met with a barrage of abuse.

Opinion polls might show that the majority of the public disapprove of homosexuality, but this mood is certainly not accepted within the New Labour establishment and certain media, which have an agenda of absolute equality and continually urge Britain to 'celebrate' all lifestyles. Homophobia rather than homosexuality has become the great social offence of our age.

I myself was bitterly attacked in the gay press when I revealed recently that NHS funds are now being used to subsidise lessons in sado-masochism for gay men.

But I would utterly reject the charges that I am a homophobe.

I grew up in an artistic family where gay friends were a normal part of life. For almost a decade from 1985 I was deeply involved in the municipal Labour politics of Islington, probably the most pro-gay borough in the United Kingdom.

It is no coincidence that one of the best-known openly gay politicians in Britain, Culture Secretary Chris Smith, hails from Islington. When I was elected a Labour councillor in the early nineties, I served as the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Committee, overseeing the implementation of anti-discriminatory policies in the workforce.

COMING from such a background, I have no time for those who want a return to the dark days before 1967, when homosexuality was illegal, when a person's sexual orientation could leave his career in ruins, when the threat of blackmail led to furtiveness and shame. I am delighted that, because of the greater openness of our society, Nick Brown does not have to resign from the Cabinet simply because he is gay.

I completely disagree with Norman Tebbit, who says that no gay should ever be Home Secretary. Why, some of our greatest Prime Ministers (William Pitt), soldiers (Kitch-ener) and empire builders (Cecil Rhodes) have been homosexual. But there is a huge difference between welcoming new freedoms and applauding every feature of gay culture. And as the debate on sexuality has intensified, so I have become increasingly disturbed by many aspects of the link between gay life and politics.

For a start, the number of gays who pursue a political career is far out of proportion to their numbers in the overall population. It has often been claimed that around one in ten of us is gay, though an official survey published last December showed that this could be a gross overestimate, the real figure being nearer to one in a hundred.

Whatever the truth, the current makeup of Westminster is far more oriented to homosexuality. Already we have seen that several of the male members of Blair's Cabinet are gay, while, if rumours are to be believed, there are an equivalent proportion on the Conservative benches.

Like certain other occupations such as acting or fashion, politics is especially attractive to gays because of its drama and intrigue, posing and gossip.

Moreover, the heavily masculine, public school atmosphere at the Commons, allied to the late hours and heavy drinking, is far more conducive to bachelors than family men. When I worked as a researcher at Westminster, I never ceased to be astonished at the openly predatory instincts of gay MPs from all parties. …