Friday, January 27, 2006

In answer to the Guardian



In answer to The Guardian:

Is someone who has chosen to live most of a life in shame and shrilly defended "privacy" really a safe person to put in charge of a political party?

I'm supporting Chris Huhne, but I was supporting Chris before this news broke. A right to privacy is a principle and should be shrilly defended - the media have no automatic 'right' to know about the sex life of public figures unless it involves a lack of consent (you know - children, dead people, animals...). Yes, he should have said 'no comment' to the Independent instead of being lawyerly (which to the untrained man in the street is equivalent to lying) but was evidently hoping to draw a line under it to avoid it being raked over the coals, dissected, etc. As a leadership candidate you want to be known for your ideas - not for an ex-partner's opinion of your bedroom technique. Whether the decision he made at this point of *how* to best shut down the rumours was a political misjudgement is a different matter...

And old habits die hard. Simon has been in politics a long time before "five years ago" when "four MPs... cheerfully photographed in shirtsleeves on the dancefloor" in the Gay Times would have shown "bravery". I've never been bisexual or gay and in the public eye so I don't know what it's like but these guys do:

Stephen Fry, actor
"I sympathise with Mr Hughes. It is very easy to get over-judgmental, but people have personal issues, families and friends, that can affect whether they are open. Things have changed during the time that Mr Hughes has been an MP, and it is much harder to announce a change mid-way through your career. "


Julian Bennett, fashionista from Queer Eye for a Straight Guy
"If people live a lie for many years, it makes things harder when they come out. A lot of people wonder why you would keep being gay a secret, but it can be difficult to suddenly declare that you are gay. I will hold hands with my partner on the street, but was not 'out' until I was 26."


Shame? Not really. The only 'shame' is that we live in an age where the sexual orientation of unmarried, middle-aged members of parliament is still deemed worthy of an interview question. After all, no one has asked Chris Huhne whether his wife ever goes on top or Menzies Campbell's opinion on al fresco action so why is asking Simon Hughes what gender of partner he prefers legitimate?

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