Nigel Evans has had a great career as a Conservative party politician in the UK: vice-chair of the party, deputy speaker of the House of Commons, and a member of the Shadow Cabinet when the Conservatives were out of power. His future looks a lot less rosy: Evans has been charged with eight sexual offenses, ranging from indecent assault to rape, against seven different men. The assaults took place between 2002 and this year.
Evans was arrested by police in May in connection with the charges. At that time, he denied the allegations. “The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialize with one as recently as last week,” Evans said then. Two of the men, he added, he had considered friends until the day of his arrest. In light of the current charges, he has resigned from Parliament.
If this were the U.S., the odds would be high that Evans was a closet case, but in fact he came out in a newspaper interview in 2010. “I realised I was gay when I was about 12 or 13, though at the time I wished I wasn’t,” he said in the interview. ‘I suppressed it. In those days you kept it quiet. It was more or less impossible to enter politics – in either party – as an openly gay person.”
Not that Evans has been a paragon of progress on gay issues. He voted for the notorious Section 28 legislation, which forbid the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. (He said in 2010 that he was “confused about how to protect youngsters.”) He’s also a climate denialist and has repeatedly pressed for the repeal of the minimum wage. All of which proves yet again we can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family.