With his lips and quiff, Portillo is rated by gay men as the most shaggable MP. But he doesn't do it for me

If I believed that God's hand guides the universe, as Cardinal Winning did, I might see his death as divine retribution for his hateful campaign against "perverted" homosexuals. But since I am not religious, I guess the cardinal's cardiac arrest was simply the result of bad genes and an unhealthy Christian lifestyle. Baroness Young - be warned. You are tempting fate, my dear. Indeed, Winning's demise is the latest in a series of misfortunes to befall prominent supporters of Section 28 in Scotland.

First, the chief funder of the "Keep the Clause" campaign, the Stagecoach boss Brian Souter, suffered catastrophic financial losses. Then came the death of the queer-baiting cleric Monsignor Tom Connelly, and the sudden departure of the editor of the homophobic Daily Record, Martin Clarke. Most recently, after campaigning in defence of Section 28, the Conservatives were thrashed in the general election. If God does exist, He's obviously batting for my side.

There is much speculation that Michael Portillo may become the first "out" gay Tory leader and prime minister. But queer Tories in Downing Street are nothing new. The earliest was William Pitt the Younger. Satirists jibed that Pitt's influence over George III was comparable to that of the Duke of Buckingham over James I. They openly lampooned his relationship with young Tom Steele and the holidays they took together in Brighton (it was, even then, a favourite fag haven). Portillo prefers to holiday in Morocco - another perennial queer destination. He told Tatler that his favourite men are "definitely David Beckham. Then Robbie Williams and Hugh Grant."

Many gay men rate Portillo as the "most shaggable" MP, citing his luscious full lips and cute silky quiff. But he doesn't do anything for me. But hey, what about his voting record? He backed Section 28 and, as defence secretary, sanctioned the witch-hunting of homosexuals in the armed forces. Right up until the last vote, he opposed an equal age of consent. I suspect that Portillo appeals to masochistic queens who prefer their men to look hard and cruel. To his credit, late last year Portillo switched to support equality at 16. I wrote to thank him, but never received a reply. Perhaps I'm just bitter at being ignored.

Otherwise, the gay A-list of fanciable MPs is tiny: Tony Blair (big hands, great smile), William Hague (snazzy buzz-cut), Ben Bradshaw (cheekbones to die for), Gordon Brown (cuddly and puppy-eyed) and Stephen Twigg (flawless skin, sweet little dimples).

Congratulations to the Imperial War Museum for screening the British premiere of the film Paragraph 175, featuring the testimonies of the last few living gay Holocaust survivors. Speaking in the post-film debate, I made the point that all the major histories of the Holocaust neglect the Nazi war against homosexuals. The books of Sir Martin Gilbert are typical. They never fully reflect the scale and savagery of the campaign to exterminate gay people. Gilbert's most recent book, Never Again: a history of the Holocaust, is promoted by his publishers as a "comprehensive account of the Holocaust". But the only mention of the Nazi anti-gay witch-hunts is one 13-word sentence: "German homosexuals were singled out for brutality and execution in the concentration camps."

If Gilbert had similarly dismissed the victimisation of Jews, he would be condemned as a revisionist historian. But when he neglects the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, it passes unchallenged. Why? Surely diminution and omission are also forms of historical revisionism because they result in selective, partial and therefore incomplete versions of the Holocaust. Is it too much to ask that all the victims of Nazism - both Jews and non-Jews - receive full acknowledgement in books that claim to be comprehensive Holocaust histories?

Another weasel-worded letter arrives from the Foreign Office. Four months after I was beaten unconscious by President Robert Mugabe's bodyguards in Brussels, there has been no British protest to Zimbabwe. Should Mugabe be allowed to export his thuggery to the streets of Europe without rebuke? According to the Foreign Office: "It is standard practice for the protection team of a head of state to deal with any attempt to approach them." Yes, but does "deal with" include battering unconscious a peaceful protester?

While the Foreign Office talks about upholding the international rule of law and creating an international court to try crimes against humanity, Britain continues to ignore the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. We've signed it and it requires the signatory states to arrest any person who commits an act of torture anywhere in the world. When Mugabe came to London in 1999, I urged the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, to arrest him on charges of torturing the Zimbabwean journalists Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka. Cook's reply was that President Mugabe has immunity as a head of state. Nonsense. Under the UN convention, no one is immune. What is the point of having international human rights laws if world leaders can flout them with impunity? I wonder whether Mugabe will dare go to October's Commonwealth Conference in Brisbane? I'll be there and will again attempt to bring him to justice. I may not succeed, but hopefully my presence will make him nervous and spoil his trip.

Peter Tatchell is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which campaigns for human rights the UK and worldwide: www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org His personal biography can be viewed here: www.petertatchell.net/biography.htm

This article first appeared in the 25 June 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The slow death of Tory England