Stop homophobic bullying, says MP Iain Stewart

Iain Stewart
Iain Stewart

CITY MP Iain Stewart has raised the issue of homophobic bullying during a Commons debate in the wake of three young gay men committing suicide in Milton Keynes last year.

The member of Milton Keynes South also revealed how he felt introverted and lonely when he was bullied at school for being gay.

Mr Stewart was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate held on Tuesday in which he called for a clampdown on homophobic bullying in schools.

A former deputy chairman of the LGBT Tory Group (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender), Mr Stewart also revealed instances of bullying in Milton Keynes schools, including a Facebook page that had been set up to ‘out’ gay pupils.

But speaking to the Citizen he said city schools were no worse – or better – than anywhere else.

During the debate he said: “Last year in my area of Milton Keynes, there were four teenage suicides. Of those, three were young gay men. Does that not tell us that there is a problem that needs to be addressed?”

He added: “Homophobic bullying can leave very deep emotional scars that can take a long time to heal and sometimes will never heal. I know that from personal experience.

“At school, I knew that I was gay, but I did not dare admit it, either to myself or to others.

“It was inconceivable for me to do that as a teenager growing up in the west of Scotland in the mid-1980s.”

He added he had found it easier to admit to being a Tory in Glasgow than it had been to come clean about his sexual orientation.

And speaking about the experiences of pupils in MK, he said: “One girl told me that she was doing a media studies class and part of the research involved looking at the portrayal of homosexuality in the media. The class had to view an episode of, I think, EastEnders in which two men were kissing.

“The phrase ‘dirty faggot’ was shouted out in the classroom and clearly heard by the teacher, but the teacher did nothing about it.

“Such incidents take place; they are happening today. The girl also told me that a Facebook page was set up so that pupils at the school who were thought to be gay could be outed.”

Minister of State for Education, Nick Gibb, said: “We need to send a message that homophobic bullying, of any kind and of any child, is unacceptable.”