Nigel Evans, a Welsh member of the U.K. Parliament, managed to be absent during the vote to legalize civil unions for gays, and missed another vote to permit gays to adopt, and and at one point voted against equalizing the age of consent for gay sex acts (though two years later he voted for it). And now Mr. Evans is making another splash: he’s coming out.
It’s been an “open secret,” says the BBC, but that’s all coming to an end as Evans, a member of the Tory party, publicly backs ParliOut, the newly formed LGBT group for queer staffers working in Parliament. (Fellow openly gay lawmaker Chris Bryant sits on the board of ParliOut and “welcomes” Evans’ news, tweeting: “Glad to see Nigel Evans is ‘coming out’. An open secret in Parliament for years.”)
Evans, who has never been married and does not have a partner, will drop the official reveal tomorrow in a newspaper interview, though word has leaked widely ahead of the announcement. It will be followed on Monday with a party for ParliOut’s official launch. Onlookers are right to be curious about Evans’ voting record. In addition to those missed votes mentioned above, it was only in 2003 that Evans, who held office since 1992, began voting pro-gay, voting to repeal Section 28, which barred the “promotion” of homosexuality. Since then, he’s been showing his face at Stonewall events (which, uh, is not the same thing as enacting equality legislation).
Evans’ coming out brings the total number of openly gay lawmakers in the House Of Commons to 22; thirteen are Tories. The last lawmaker to come out was Crispin Blunt, who revealed his secret in August after a reckless regard for LGBT equality.
So why is Evans coming out now? Oh, maybe because he’s being considered for the post of Commons Speaker, suggests the Daily Mail, and revealing this closet skeleton is an effort to squash any potential roadblocks.
UPDATE: Evans, who says he consulted with Gareth Thomas about coming out, tells the Daily Mail the reason he’s coming out now is because a fellow lawmaker threatened to out him: “The MP [who Evans won’t identify] was saying to anyone who would listen, ‘Why is it that Nigel Evans leads a life whereby he is gay to some people and not others?’ … I could not afford it to be used as leverage against me. I couldn’t take the risk. I don’t want any other MP to face that kind of nastiness again.”