First Published: May 2007
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tachell has been writing about the resignation of BP boss Lord Browne, after he lied in court in an attempt to prevent the Mail on Sunday publishing details of a four year gay relationship.

The moral imperative to be honest is strong. While all lesbians and gays should come out, how and when they come out is, of course, up to them. .

I am not, however, aware of any compelling reasons why it was difficult for Lord Browne to be fully open about his sexuality. On the contrary, his immense wealth, powerful friends and privileged social status make it much easier for him to be open, compared with most gays and lesbians. Being part of the rich elite largely insulates him from a homophobic backlash (in the doubtful event that his coming out would have provoked any significant negative reactions).
Peter Tatchell

Having said all this, there was no demonstrable public interest grounds for the Mail on Sunday - or any other media - outing Lord Browne. He wasn't being hypocritical or homophobic. If he was denouncing gay people or advocating anti-gay laws - or if he had authorised the hounding of BPs' gay employees - that would be a justifiable reason to expose his double standards. I would have outed him myself. But I am not aware that Lord Browne was homophobic. He may have shown moral weakness by not coming out, but hiding in the closet - however lamentable - is not ethically of the same order as endorsing homophobic prejudice and discrimination.

There are two very obvious lessons from the demise of Lord Browne. First, don't lie or cover-up. Second, it is best to be honest and open about one's sexuality.

Having seen the fall of Lord Browne, will the many gay high-flyers in business heed this commonsense advice? Or will they too, one day, end up like him: down and out in the city?

Read Peter's full column in The Guardian


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