GAY TIMES 97, October 1986

This month’s award to gross disservice to British journalism goes to The Star. Step forward Lloyd Taylor editor of that detestable organ, and claim the honour of managing to achieve the impossible—becoming even more squalid than The Sun.

The scene was set by The Star’s gossip columnist Peter Tory who still subscribes to the “gay plague” interpretation of Aids and therefore considers it a suitable topic for jollity. On two days this month (3rd and 5th Sept) he made bad taste and vicious “jokes” at the expense of people who are suffering from the disease. A more despicable use of newspaper space would be difficult to imagine until you come to The Star’s new columnist “Mills”.

He was introduced to us on 2 Sept under the heading “The Angry Voice”. We were told we could expect yet another semi-fascist ranter. “Mills will often find himself sharing a political bed of nails with… the National Front … ‘patriots’ … and all those whose political philosophy is entirely encompassed by the four-point plan: ‘Hang ‘em, flog ‘em, castrate ‘em and send ‘em home.” He would, he promised us, also rail against “Wooftahs, pooftahs, nancy boys, queers, lezzies—the perverts whose moral sin is to so abuse the delightful word ‘gay’ as to render it unfit for human consumption.”

“Mills” assured us that he would be an original and refreshing voice, but from this introduction he sounded to me just like all the other raving right-wingers who pollute the pages of our press: George Gale, Jean Rook, Paul Johnson, Peregrine Worsthorne, Richard Ingrams—any of them could have described themselves as Mills did.

Needless to say, his lack of anything new to say about gays was proved in the following column (9 Sept) which was headed: “Get back in the closet!” He wrote: “Insidiously, almost imperceptibly, the perverts have got the heterosexual majority with their backs against the wall (the safest place, actually …)” (Yawn) “The freaks proclaim their twisted morality almost nightly on TV … where will it ever end? Where it may end, of course, is by natural causes. The woofters have had a dreadful plague visited upon them, which we call Aids, and which threatens to decimate their ranks. Since the perverts offend the laws of God and nature, is it fanciful to suppose that one or both is striking back? … Little queers or big queers, Mills has had enough of them all—the lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, the hermaphrodites and the catamites and the gender benders who brazenly flaunt their sexual failings to the disgust and grave offence of the silent majority. A blight on them all says Mills.”

Sound familiar? “Mills” hadn’t finished, though, and continued to cram in every cliché, myth, lie and prejudice that has ever been invented by the anti-gay lobby. At any other time I would have written all this off as a sad example of the lamentable state of our press, but taken in conjunction with the other things that are happening all around us I can only describe it as an incitement to hatred and violence. It made a mockery of the NUJ’s “Campaign for Real People”, flaunting all the union’s codes of conduct. I have complained to the NUJ’s Ethics Council, but I hold little hope that there will be any check on the way the press are orchestrating this vicious campaign of anti-gay propaganda.

Campaign for Real People? Perhaps the NUJ would be better engaged in a Campaign for Real Newspapers,


When is a disease not a disease? Answer: when it’s associated with homosexuals. Then, apparently, it becomes “a straightforward moral issue.” This is the opinion of the Scottish Health Minister, Mr John McKay as quoted in The Guardian (5 Sept). Letting us know that he “did not think the public would expect him to make extra resources available to combat Aids”, he is quoted as saying: “I’m afraid it will just have to be treated as one of the problems of the health service. The only other payround is for people who get it to pay themselves, or someone else is always going to have to pay.”

So where does the “morality” come into such an argument when human misery and suffering has to take second place to money, and gay lives have a significantly lower price than heterosexual ones. If Mrs Thatcher and her insane back benchers share these values then I fear greatly for the future.


Thelma Holt “a middle-aged, heterosexual Christian” wrote a passionate, and compassionate letter to The GuardIian (12 Sept) in reply to the Minister’s comments. She spoke of her horror at the insidious idea that gay victims of Aids should be regarded differently to others. She also made the point that Aids is no more “self-inflicted” than those diseases caused by excessive alcohol, tobacco or rich food. Indeed, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the hoo-ha if it was suggested that lung cancer victims or those with hardened arteries should be compelled to pay for their own treatment.

“Psychiatrists,” Ms Holt wrote, “point out that those who agitated vociferously or hysterically to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in private were often fighting their own sexual proclivities; we were to understand that such a theory held good however many children such campaigners had fathered. We need to recall this theory…”

She also chided “some newspaper commentators who have for years incited the public to harry and despise: homosexuals” and reminded them that theirs was a “line of argument which Adolf Hitler pursued and took to its ghastly conclusion in the death camps.”

Is anybody listening?


The Sunday Mirror carried another of its interminably boring Royal Gossip features of 14 Sept. It started with the old story about the Queen Mother wanting a drink. “She simply shouted down to the kitchen ‘Is there an old queen down there who can bring an old Queen up here a gin and tonic?’”

In a single moment Britain’s best-loved royal had shown how many of the family feel about the known homosexuals working in their service.

Shock! Horror! Scandal! A “Gay Mafia” operating at the palace! But the royal family don’t seem unduly perturbed even though these pernicious gays have “brought the Royal Family some of its darkest moments”. Like what? “There was the time for instance,” says The Sunday Mirror, “when nine members of the Royal yacht Britannia’s crew were jailed for forming a homosexual vice ring.” Now just a minute—what the Sunday Mirror perceives as a “vice ring” ordinary people simply call “affairs” or “loving relationships.” In the bizarre world of the tabloids, of course, homosexuals are incapable of such things.

The truth of the matter is that all the “gay scandals” that have been attached to the royal family have been entirely contrived by the tabloids. Their two favourite subjects, homosexuality and royalty, can’t often be linked, but when they can… well, batten down the hatches your Majesty.

I hold no brief for royalty, but my estimation would rise if once-just once—they would repay the loyalty of their gay staff in standing by them when they are being hounded and vilified by the press.


The whole confused cocktail of Aids, homophobia, sex education and Tory “morality” was given another outing in a ludicrously contradictory editorial in The Daily Telegraph (16 Sept). While the leader writer accepted that “education” was essential to stop the spread of the virus the good old Telegraph couldn’t just say “OK get on with it” – there had to be ‘controls’. “Councils which insist on instruction on homosexuality cannot be prevented; but they can be sensibly countered… If the medical message on Aids is as serious as many believe, a campaign to instruct, to counsel and to warn – in which, dare we add, a moral undertone, would not come amiss – is the first priority.”

This gibberish is what I think is commonly known as going round in ever-decreasing circles.


The anti-gay lobby is increasing its visibility, egged on by the political strength of its right-wing sympathisers. The Tory Government has created a perfect climate in this country for the anti-sex brigade to propagate its views. The papers are more than happy to assist in the puritan backlash, and here is a selection of quotes to illustrate just how widely the views of our potential oppressors are being disseminated:

“When it comes to aggressive promoting of homosexuality, it is wrong. There is a difference between encouraging and accepting homosexuality.”—Kenneth Baker, Education Secretary, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (14 Sept).

“I do not, of course, have anything against homosexuals and lesbians … my concern is to prevent the corruption of children who are at an impressionable age.”—Harry Greenway MP, EALING LEADER (5 Sept).

“To date there has been no public discussion about the isolation or quarantine of Aids carriers neither about recriminalisation of homosexuality … Such measures may still prove effective.”—Dr Adrian Rogers, DAILY TELEGRAPH (10 Sept).

“The only valid variety of relationship is between a man and a woman. Any other relationship is abnormality, even if – like homosexuality – it is a very common abnormality.”—Coun. Tony Young, EALING GAZETTE (12 Sept).

“If homosexuals themselves are really unashamed of their abhorrent sexuality… they should be able to emerge from behind the gaudy ‘gay’ curtain, and openly and consistently declare and confess themselves to be no more nor less than what they truly are, namely, homosexuals”.– -Dr EJ Micham, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (7 Sept).

“Man was too highly sexed for his reproductive needs. He was out of balance with nature, so nature was killing off the most highly sexed, the promiscuous. The homosexuals were being killed off first because they were more promiscuous and now the promiscuous heterosexuals were following.”—Dr Kevin Hume, DAILY TELEGRAPH (15 Sept).

“Few health officials go so far as to educate the public that homosexuality is not only biologically illogical but spiritually a sin.”—The PLAIN TRUTH (sic) (Oct).

“What next? Can we soon look forward to special TV epics for paedophiles, necrophiliacs, pyromaniacs, sado-masochists, satanists and sundry other freaks?”—WORCESTER EVENING NEWS commenting on the Channel 4 gay season (15 Aug).

“The 1967 Sexual Offences Act sought to remove the fear of blackmail from male homosexuals but did not confer approval on homosexual lifestyles. If Parliament could have foreseen Hackney Council’s Gay Pride Week things would have been very different. But how to put the genie back in the bottle? There’s the problem. – Newsletter of the Conservative Family Campaign.


George Gale was interviewed in London listings magazine City Limits (14 Sept). The interviewer found him rather an amiable chap rather than the expected ogre.

Gale insisted that when he wrote so vituperatively about gays he was really only getting at “the lunatic antics of some left-wing councils.” But George Gale writes regularly about homosexuals being responsible for Aids, and about our promiscuity (“Just as pedarests flit from boy to boy so do homosexuals flit from one to another.”). This doesn’t sound like an attack on left wing councils to me —it sounds like straightforward homophobia.

GAY TIMES 99, December 1986

AIDS is once more big news and we are subjected to the sad spectacle of the newspapers trying to convince us that at last they are taking the matter seriously. Their new-found ‘responsibility’ is quite pathetic to behold. The tabloids put on their poker faces-and then sum up an immensely complex subject in three paragraphs. The problem is that the so-called serious treatment is almost as bad as their previous disgraceful behaviour when Aids was just ‘the gay plague’.

Ben Elton, who has a column in The Daily Mirror had the courage to criticise his own paper (10 Nov) for trying to encapsulate such a complicated thing into a brief question-and-answer format. “I thought it unwise to publish such vague ‘symptoms’” wrote Mr Elton. “Apparently, Aids symptoms include dry throat, diarrhoea and fatigue. I get the same effect from six pints of lager and a few fags. Last week surgeries everywhere must have been crammed with hungover people holding The Mirror and thinking they were going to die. I’m not being flippant. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

And a little knowledge is still what the papers are giving their readers. And for all their alleged concern The Daily Mail still managed to carry a critical front page lead (Oct 30) about Manchester City Council’s planned response to Aids. The Council had said that they intended to support and help victims of the disease in their employ and do their best to try and stop ill-informed colleagues making life even more miserable for them. The Tory leader of the council Joyce Hill was given the lion’s share of space to say: “It is not fair to ask a family man to work alongside an Aids carrier without even letting him know he could be at risk. The council should get its priorities right, this is not the kind of thing it should be wasting money on.”

Can you believe what you are reading? Are the people who produce The Daily Mail really so heartless, so ignorant and such downright bastards that they think efforts to help sick people are wrong? Yes, I’m afraid they are. For was it not the DAILY MAIL that gave arch-Tory propagandist Paul Johnson a full page (Nov 4) to return to his favourite subject? “Aids: The danger Labour ignores at Britain’s peril” was the headline over an article which was, as you’d expect from Mr Johnson, full of distortions, unconvincing overstatements and back-to-front conclusions. According to Mr Johnson, you can forget about the conspiracy theory that Aids was created in an American laboratory —no, it is the Labour Party who are to blame for the whole Aids situation because they have supported gay people. “During the past five years, while the evidence of the Aids peril has grown, the Labour Party has step-by-step committed itself to policies which place homosexuality on a moral par with normal sex and encourage its expression.” Mr Johnson rants on and on about “homosexual militants”, “pro-homosexual propaganda” and so on. He concludes: “On the issues of Aids and the homosexual connection, Labour is playing politics with human lives. As the public grasps this fact, there could be an awesome political retribution.”

Mr Johnson might well be right. No doubt he will work day and night to make sure his prediction comes true. What he forgets is that he, too, is playing with human lives, but they are only homosexual lives so they can, in his reckoning, be discounted. Paul Johnson is a sad and cynical man. His shocking use of a terrible tragedy to score cheap and easy political points makes me feel sick.

But at least Johnson’s thinking is his own. For now we have that other right-wing columnist Woodrow Wyatt in The NEWS OF THE WORLD saying precisely the same thing. “Some Labour councils encourage Aids with grants to homosexual centres. So do Labour education authorities telling children that homosexuals living together are as stable as married couples. They also encourage children to experiment with sex. This is murder.”

It would be too much for Woodrow Wyatt and Paul Johnson to understand that unless gay people are encouraged to feel secure as members of society and able to get together occasionally for mutual support then they will become unreachable with the vital information about Aids. The reason so many gay relationships are unstable is precisely because of the bigoted attitudes of people like this. Important points such as these cannot be considered by Johnson, Wyatt et al because they are not really engaged in any kind of constructive discussion, they are engaged in propaganda. But by far the biggest tragedy—and there is overwhelming evidence of it happening already — is that Aids will become a party-political issue. Right wing puritans are already jumping on the bandwagon with their irrelevant moralising, carelessly ignoring the enormous human suffering involved. Foremost amongst these is the staggeringly obsessed Dr Adrian Rodgers of Exeter, who pops up with depressing frequency on TV and in the papers with his strident calls for the re-criminalisation of homosexuality and imprisoning of people with Aids.

If the issue is used to score cheap political points I fear that what is now a huge medical problem could turn into a social catastrophe. This is a problem for the whole human race and not one to be used by politicians as a tool to retain power. And not only are our local minor politicians using Aids like this, it is also emerging as an ideological battleground for East and West. The SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (Nov 9) said: “Whilst the rest of the world frantically endeavours to find a cure for the plague of Aids, the KGB is using the disease as a cynical campaign of disinformation against the West”.

My advice to all the Fleet Street “thinkers”, the destructive so-called moralisers and the super power plotters, is to put aside dogmatic stances and face up to Aids as a tragedy for the whole of mankind. This disease doesn’t care whether your politics are red, blue or candy-striped.


Remember Mills, The Star’s so-called “angry voice”? He’s the man who has, since his column started some months ago, managed to contravene every single article of the National Union of Journalists code of ethics. He is racist, homophobic, anti-women—in fact, if you aren’t a white, heterosexual male you are fair game for Mills’ fascist rantings. And he doesn’t hold back. Indeed, the columns are almost unbelievably crude. The fact that a national newspaper sees fit to print such stuff speaks volumes for the rapidly declining state of the British Press.

Now we discover, courtesy of the London listings magazine City Limits (Oct 30), that Mills is, in fact, Ray Mills, the deputy editor of The Star. He is known to his colleagues as “Biffo”. Mr Mills thinks this is an affectionate soubriquet after the cartoon bear but, in fact, it stands for Big Ignorant Fat Fucker from Oldham, according to an ex-member of the Star’s staff quoted in City Limits.

I suggest that Gay Times readers could make life a little more difficult for the obnoxious Mills. I already have a complaint lodged against him with the ethics council of the NUJ and I suggest others make similar complaints, either to the NUJ or the Commission for Racial Equality when appropriate.

And finally, a world to Mills’ colleagues at The Star: your silence in the face of this journalistic abomination is almost as bad as Ray Mills’ own stirring up of racial and sexual hatred. His violent words will soon incite violent action. Are you going to sit by and let innocent people take the brunt of Ray Mills’ abuse of his access to the press?


The plot of Channel Four’s gay film Consenting Adult (Oct 28) was a familiar one. Young son comes out to comfortable middle-class parents and the family goes into crisis. This was a better than average rendition of the theme, given that it was an American TV movie. Tear-jerking performances from Martin Sheen and Marlo Thomas, playing doting parents who can’t accept that their son has apparently changed overnight from the American dream to the American nightmare. There is much soul-searching before mom and pop really believe their son’s assertion that his homosexuality is “true and getting truer all the time”. Indeed, by the end of the story pop has to send the mandatory “I love you son” from beyond the grave in the form of a letter which he couldn’t bring himself to post while he was alive. Mom agonises a bit more before she decides that she might as well get on with it and invites son and lover home to dinner.

Although it was played as a weepy, the film managed to make a very important point which we’ve failed to get over in political debate. It demonstrated that there are two distinct kinds of homosexual: the gay bogeyman created by the newspapers (who appears to spend his wholetime preying on children, spreading diseases and eating up the entire rate precept) and the real flesh and blood person who has all kinds of hopes, and fears and dreams just like everyone.

GAY TIMES 232, January 1998

These are the stark figures: 16,000 people become HIV-positive every day. Thirty million people have HIV infection or Aids. Some 2.3 million people will die from the infection this year — a 50 per cent increase on last year.

With these horrific statistics, the promoters of World Aids Day tried once again to get HIV back on top of the public health agenda. They had little success. The articles that appeared in the serious newspapers had the feeling of duty about them, rather than any serious sense of alarm at what is happening.

The tabloids gave the story a couple of paragraphs each — and even then, some of those were condemnatory. Unless some celebrity succumbs in the meantime, that’s probably all we’ll hear about it until next December.

Television coverage was even more derisory. In The Observer, Robert McKie complained that, on the day the United Nations announced the statistics that opened this column, ITN chose to lead its bulletin with Earl Spencer’s divorce proceedings.

“We are plunging into a global epidemic,” wrote McKie, “and clearly we are desperate to raise awareness about HIV. So ITN gave us details of Earl Spencer’s preposterous wealth, his infidelities and a great deal of soap opera fluff. Now, the dumbing down of TV news is not a new problem. But to ignore one of the greatest science stories of the century seems laughably perverse.”

The London Evening Standard managed to give the story a local spin by quoting from a report from the Health of Londoners Project, which looks at the state of public health in London. This report suggests that “one third of all homosexual men in the country live in the inner city” and, as a result, 42 per cent of Britain’s HIV cases are now concentrated in inner London, where Aids is the leading cause of death for all men between 18 and 54— 3,780 mortalities by the end of 1996.

But the situation could have been worse. As The Guardian pointed out: “Fundamentalists who opposed Britain’s liberal approach — safe sex campaigns and free needle exchanges for drug users — should look at how many more people died elsewhere. America, where needle exchanges were banned, has had far higher mortality rates. Neither France nor Spain achieved the same high profile safe sex campaigns: proportionately, France has had three times as many Aids cases as Britain and Spain seven times as many.”

It is clear, then, that forthright, no-nonsense safer sex campaigns save lives. So why do we still have journalistic primitives like Richard Littlejohn in The Daily Mail opposing them? On December 4th he wrote: “A reader sent me a copy of a leaflet issued by Coventry and Warwickshire HIV network. It is entitled Suck it and ? — Information about Oral Sex for Gay and Bisexual Men… The text is beyond obscene. You don’t want to know, trust me. Yet this is financed by tax-payers and presented in a crazy-guy kinda way. There are all kinds of fun tips and advice, yet never the slightest suggestion that this might not be a way to behave in the first place. Mustn’t be judgmental.”

He makes his usual claim that he doesn’t care what consenting adults do “provided I don’t have to watch, participate or pay for it” but then goes on to say, “It is the triumphalism I abhor. And the idea that people who knowingly indulge in dangerous and unhealthy practices are some kind of heroes, to be plied with public funds and protected from the inevitable consequences of their own perversion.”

He ends with a cheap crack about being able to put anything into your mouth these days as long as it isn’t a cigarette.

Daily Mail readers are constantly fed this idea, that they are the persecuted minority, that it is their hard-earned cash that goes to pay for all this perversion and loose-living. The message that is constantly hammered home is that the middle-classes are under relentless attack from the dregs of society — homosexuals, single mothers, drug addicts, paedophiles and endless foreign immigrants. How come honest, normal folk don’t get all the privileges that these poofs and gypsies and pregnant teenagers get? The Government, the Mail asserts, is clearly on the side of these undesirable minorities. But I would remind Paul Dacre, editor of The Daily Mail, of something written by the American thinker Wendell Phillips in the last century: “Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection — they have many friends and few enemies.”

However, those of a conservative frame of mind are by nature selfish. They are not enthusiastic about granting minority rights because they fear that, in doing so, something will be taken away from them. Such conservatives are naturally drawn to The Daily Telegraph (which has resumed its habit of putting the word gay into quotation marks). The Telegraph’s letters column has also recently become a platform for virulent anti-homosexual sentiment.

A frequent correspondent is Dr Adrian Rogers, the celebrated political failure. His letters are almost always given lead status. On November 19th, his familiar message was encapsulated in the pithy headline “Homosexual activity is always wrong”. Then, next day, came a missive from Mr John Cowlishaw, headed “The power of rich homosexuals”.

But best of all was the letter from Mrs Valerie Riches, of Family and Youth Concern, who was making the point that homosexuals had donated £2 million to President Clinton’s election campaign fund, and therefore, “In view of the recent revelations about the £1 million received by the Labour Party from Bernie Ecclestone before the general election, a further issue is raised. Mr Blair has given public support for the homosexual rights movement in this country and is set to reduce the age of consent to 16 on the ground of equality. Is it fair to ask: what did the Labour Party receive from homosexual groups or eminent supporters before the general election and, if any, what strings were attached?”

I immediately wrote to the editor of The Telegraph to confess that I had donated £10 to the Labour Party’s election fund on the understanding that in return I would receive full equality with every other citizen in this country. My demands have yet to be satisfied, but I will fully understand if Mr Blair is embarrassed by my generosity and wishes to return my tenner. I would not wish him to suffer any further conflict with the Parliamentary Standards Committee. My letter was not, for some reason, selected for publication.

Now let us visit The Express and find out what its contribution to the great gay debate has been. “Only 1 in 100 men says that he is gay” the paper announced on December 1st. It was quoting research carried out by the Office of National Statistics, which surveyed 2,000 people. “Only one per cent of men admitted to practising exclusively homosexual sex,” The Express crooned. “Another one per cent say they have had sex with both men and women. Ninety two per cent said they had only ever had sex with women.”

The paper was also pleased to reassure its readers that “Last year an attempt by the ONS to count the number of stable gay couples for the Government’s General Household Survey found fewer than 20 among 9,000 households. Their number was left out of the survey as ‘statistically insignificant’.”

This, of course, gave The Express the opportunity to whinge about the way society had been misled by “the gay lobby” and its persistent claim that one in ten is gay. It also dragged in the money being spent on Aids prevention. “Critics have said that spending much of the £52.3 million government grant on controversial tactics like handing out condoms in gay haunts tends to encourage homosexual behaviour.”

Also in for the kill came the Conservative Family Campaign (which had probably planted the story in the first place), whose spokesperson, Hugh McKinney, said: “These findings show yet again the misinformation that is used to allow pernicious propaganda to spread through society.”

Ah yes, pernicious propaganda. Mr McKinney knows all about that, because in the very next sentence he says: “American figures show that the life expectancy of a practising male homosexual is less than 40 — around half that of a heterosexual man.” (The source for this statistic is a right-wing American fundamentalist group, so, of course, it must be true).

Not to be left out of the statistical jamboree, The Daily Mail quoted Dr Jacqueline Scott, a social researcher at Cambridge University, who claims to have discovered through her research that “seven out of ten men and six out of ten women deplore and condemn homosexual behaviour.”

Well, excuse me, Dr Scott, but only days before, in The Independent on Sunday, I had read that the Health Education Authority had conducted yet another survey which revealed that “the percentage of people who believe that sexual relations between men are wrong has fallen by more than a third during the last ten years. In 1987, 74 per cent of people thought that sex between men was ‘always or mostly wrong’. This month the figure has fallen to 44 per cent in the survey of 1,442 people.”

Who is telling us the truth, and who is trying to mislead us? Well, you pays your money and you takes your choice. But the principle remains that however many gay people there are in this country, even if it is only half a dozen (and their 250,000 apparently straight supporters who go to Pride), they shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens.

***

Now let’s have some good news. According to The Independent on Sunday (November 30th), the boycott of the Disney Corporation, called by the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA, has failed abysmally. The boycott was ordered last year after the Disney Corporation announced that it would treat its gay workers fairly and equally. The Barmy Baptists demanded that their 15 million members cease forthwith to use or purchase any Disney product.

Well, since then the value of. Disney’s shares has risen by 10 per cent, and their profits by even more. Seems those pious Americans much prefer Goofy to God.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph was alarmed to report that “Churches may be forced to marry homosexual couples” (all 20 of them) if the European Convention on Human Rights is incorporated into British law. Baroness Young said provisions covering ‘public authorities’, such as anti-discrimination laws, could include churches and other religious organisations.

She added that adoption agencies linked to churches might be unable to prevent children being placed with homosexual couples. “Lady Young urged peers to exempt the Church of England from the Human Rights Bill, which incorporates the Convention into British law,” the paper reported.

Baroness Young, a major ‘sponsor’ of Family and Youth Concern, has obviously been primed by the right-wing on this one. And Stonewall, the lesbian and gay lobbying group, really needs to get a response on the go.

Finally, Michael Portillo is reported as saying that he thinks the time is coming when it will be perfectly possible for Britain to have a gay Prime Minister. I think he probably means an out gay Prime Minister, because, of course, we’ve already had several closet cases. According to The Daily Telegraph, Pitt the Younger, Disraeli, Balfour and Lord Roseberry were all that way inclined to some extent. There have been others, who cannot yet be named because (a) there isn’t enough evidence or (b) they are still alive, and prefer to keep their closet intact.

Given Mr Portillo’s well-known ambitions, the question on everybody’s lips is: who does he have in mind?