The Scottish Secretary David Mundell has come out as gay describing his decision to acknowlege his sexuality as one of the most important of his life.
The Conservative Cabinet minister said he is homosexual in a statement on his website and that going public was the only way to be “truly happy on a personal level”.
The statement entitled New Year, New Start made political history as Mr Mundell, who does not have a partner, is the first openly gay Conservative Cabinet minister.
He is not, however, the first homosexual Tory front-bencher. Alan Duncan became the first Tory MP to announce he was gay in 2002 and Crispin Blunt, Nick Boles and Nick Gibb are among the gay men in the party to have held ministerial roles. The party’s leader in Scotland Ruth Davidson is also openly gay.
The Labour politician Chris Smith became the first gay cabinet minister almost two decades ago when he was made culture secretary, a post that many years later was held by Ben Bradshaw – one of the first MPs to be openly gay when first elected.
Lord Mandelson held a number of Cabinet roles, while Angela Eagle, now shadow business secretary, became the first woman in parliament to announce she was a lesbian.
Mr Mundell, a divorcee with three grown up children, paid tribute to the “love and support” he has received from his family and friends while coming to terms with his decision to speak publicly about his private life.
Last night politicians from across the political spectrum as well as equality campaigners sent supportive messages.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Good on you David. Well done & Best Wishes.”
Ruth Hunt, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, said: ‘We’re so happy David Mundell feels able to speak openly about his sexual orientation.
“Role models like David Mundell inspire young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people by letting them know they are not alone and that they too can feel proud of their identity.”
In his statement, Mr Mundell said: “Of course, everybody who gets to this point, has had their own journey. I have certainly been on mine – conflicting emotions, of doubts and fears, but ultimately positive and uplifting, with an unstoppable direction of travel. Over time, I came to understand that, for me, the only way to be truly happy on a personal level is to acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am.”
The politician wrote of his admiration of the “many people, young and old”, who were taking a similar step while uncertain of the reaction they would receive.
He wrote: “I don’t know what the wider reaction will be, but I know it’s the right thing for me to do.”