New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
  2. Media
1 June 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:18am

The Sun asks: “Should gay people be cabinet ministers?”

From the paper which warned you that a “gay mafia” was running the country.

By George Eaton

David Laws’s resignation prompted many thoughtful pieces on why, in this more tolerant age, a respected politician felt the need to conceal his sexuality. But today’s Sun has no time for such liberal hand-wringing. Instead, the red-top runs a poll asking: “Should gay people be cabinet ministers?

It isn’t the fear that some Sun editors believe that gays should be barred from the cabinet that troubles me (they surely don’t); it’s the fact that the paper views this as a legitimate and worthwhile debate.

There is no reason why Laws’s fate should lead anyone to question whether gay people should be in the cabinet. Gay politicians — including Chris Smith, Nick Brown, Ben Bradshaw and Peter Mandelson — have all served with distinction in the past 13 years.

By the Sun’s logic, were a Jewish minister to resign, we would be compelled to ask: “Should Jewish people be cabinet ministers?”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

There is, of course, an unhappy precedent for this sort of thing. It was the Sun that, in 1998, demanded: “Tell us the truth Tony: are we being run by a gay mafia?” This after Blair’s cabinet was found to contain, fairly unremarkably, four gay ministers. David Yelland, the then editor of the paper, has since revealed that he was “horrified” by the headline, which was written in his absence.

Twelve years on, after the introduction of civil partnerships, the repeal of Section 28, the equalisation of the age of consent and the legalisation of gay adoption, it’s disturbing that Britain’s biggest-selling paper still treats gay people as if they’re second-class citizens.

Special offer: get 12 issues of the New Statesman for just £5.99 plus a free copy of “Liberty in the Age of Terror” by A C Grayling.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change