Only hypocrisy justifies outing

Simon Heffer spoils an otherwise informative article with the preposterous allegation that the outing of MPs is "often" done by "other homosexuals", and that "militant" campaigners are "rather pleased" with the exposure of homosexual ministers ("Why gays become politicians", 13 November).

No MPs have been outed by gay campaigners, either now or in the past. Journalists perpetrated all the outings of MPs.

So-called "militant" gay organisations such as OutRage! have, in contrast, condemned the recent outing of government ministers. These ministers are not hypocritical or homophobic. Because there is no contradiction between their public pronouncements and their private behaviour there are no legitimate grounds for exposing their sexuality.

Once, in 1994, we named ten Anglican bishops and urged them to "tell the truth" about their sexuality. That was because of their hypocrisy, not their homosexuality. They were privately gay, while publicly endorsing condemnations of gay sex.

At the time, even the liberal media refused to support the outing of gay hypocrites. Now, four years later, nearly all newspapers - including the Sun - accept the OutRage! argument that outing can be justified in cases of hypocrisy, but otherwise it is an unjustifiable intrusion.

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
London SW14

This article first appeared in the 27 November 1998 issue of the New Statesman, How the left hijacked the family