A Tory member of the British parliament who opposed equality for homosexuals has now announced that he will come out as gay tomorrow.
Nigel Evans of Swansea, Wales, is the MP for the Ribble Valley in England and a deputy speaker in the lower house, the House of Commons.
Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has been informed of Evans’s decision to make the announcement, which will be tomorrow, and he and Evans’s constituency party are said to be in support.
Evans voted against lowering the age of consent for gay relationships from 18 to 16 in 1998, but he did vote in favour of the measure two years later. The law finally changed in 2001.
When civil partnerships for same-sex couples were being debated and voted on in 2001, he was absent from the house.
It was not till 2003 that Evans became more active in the fight for equal rights, and voted in favour of the repeal of Section 28, a piece of legislation that became known just by its number within the 1988 Local Government Act.
Section 28 sought to outlaw the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities, and, although no prosecutions were ever brought under the Tory measure, it’s thought many schoolteachers and other local authority employees were reticent about even discussing homosexuality lest they fall foul of that law.
“Mr Evans will celebrate his decision to go public by hosting a reception at the Speaker’s official residence on Monday evening to launch ‘Parliout’ – the first lesbian and gay network group to operate within the Palace of Westminster [home of the Houses of Parliament],” says the Daily Mail.
“Colleagues of Mr Evans at Westminster privately expect him to use a weekend interview to declare his homosexuality.
“One told the Daily Mail: ‘We have been trying to persuade him to do this for years.’”
The Mail quotes Evans’s political agent, Michael Ranson, as saying: “I think there was an understanding it might happen, that he might declare he was gay. He told me he had been to a newspaper and he was coming out.
“I think probably in his position as Deputy Speaker he wants to clear the air and tell everyone what the situation is. I think he just thought it was the right time.”