Scotland Times

Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

I now feel less safe as a gay man - MP Chris Bryant

I now feel less safe as a gay man - MP Chris Bryant

Senior Labour MP Chris Bryant has told the BBC he feels "less physically safe as a gay man" than he did 30 years ago.

The Rhondda MP accused the government of stoking a culture war, which he said always ended with people who are "slightly different" being targeted.

He told Nick Robinson's Political Thinking podcast that Boris Johnson was not homophobic but some in government were happy to "stir the pot".

No 10 said the PM was proud of the government's record on LGBT issues.

The spokesman also said Mr Johnson was "absolutely clear there is no place for homophobic abuse".

Mr Bryant, who chairs the Commons standards committee, said he had discussed his concerns about culture wars - ideological battles about personal and societal issues - with "people who work in Downing Street".

"They've learned this trick in America from Trump and in the end culture wars will always pick on those who are slightly different and that means the gays, the Jews and the blacks and that's always the list that crops up whenever a populist government gets into power."

Asked for examples, he cited the government's stance on transgender people and that they were "not prepared" to implement a "proper ban" on conversion therapy.

Mr Bryant added: "There's a world where people who think it's politically advantageous to stir that pot and that makes me genuinely fearful.

'I'm not accusing the prime minister of being homophobic but I do feel less physically safe as a gay man than I did 30 years ago."

He said he didn't wake up in the morning "worrying I'm going to be gay-bashed" but expressed concern about a rise in hate crimes against LGBT people, adding that homophobia was "a very strong part of people's experience of modern Britain".

Responding to his comments, No 10 said: "The prime minister is proud of this government's record on LGBT issues and we continue to make progress in areas such as banning conversion therapy and extending same-sex marriage to all parts of the UK.

"He is also absolutely clear there is no place for homophobic abuse."

'A version of hell'

Mr Bryant also talked about dealing with his mother's alcoholism when growing up and why he turned down an inheritance worth millions.

"I remember mum coming into my bedroom on my 13th birthday and telling me that she drank too much and the next few years at home were a version of hell really," he said.

"I had to look after mum for quite a while.... it meant I learnt to cook, to iron because mum was not able to do that.

"I felt very angry about it a lot of the time.... I can't tell you how many bottles of vodka I've poured down the drain.

He said his family initially couldn't work out how his mother was getting "quite so drunk in the kitchen".

"Avocados were the fashion then and everyone had an avocado stone with cocktail sticks suspended above water. We could never work out why ours never put down a root - it was because mum had vodka in it instead of water.

His mother later died, but he said he never knew if "she took her own life or whether she had drunk too much and taken too many paracetamol".


Mr Bryant says he "could have come out as a mess" but credits three elderly relatives for helping him.

"They were phenomenally supportive of me," he says, adding that they had wanted him to inherit their estate in Aviemore, Scotland.

"It was many millions and I refused because I knew it would just change me, it would turn me into a different person from the person I wanted to be."

"My husband is furious with this now," he added.

"Every time we drive past a house and I say 'why don't we live in a house like that' he says because you gave the blasted money away you 'nana."

Chris Bryant: I feel less safe as a gay man


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