Is there a disproportionately higher number of gay MPs? If so, why?

(36 Posts)
Whippet Wed 26-Oct-11 11:52:48

Sorry, badly worded title, and please, this is a general question I've always wondered - not any kind of veiled homophobia.

It just seems to me that there are more gay MPs as a % of the total compared to the average % in the population?

I just wondered why, really? I find myself thinking that the role is so unconducive to life with family/children maybe that it's only people with fewer commitments who can cope with it?

Or is it a public school bias? confused

Or is it not greater than average, but just seems like it because of the media obsession with these things?

seeker Wed 26-Oct-11 11:55:44

What are the %ages?

LynetteScavo Wed 26-Oct-11 11:59:48

I think it's media obsesion. It's easier to come out than be outed, which will inevitably happen eventually if you are an MP, because it makes good headlines.

You could say the same thing about pop stars and hairdressers. I bet no more are gay than accountants...but accountants just plod on with their lives, and it's never an issue.

bibbitybobbitybloodyaxe Wed 26-Oct-11 12:02:56

Really? I thought about 10% of the general population is homosexual. Are there more gay mps than this?

tooearlymustdache Wed 26-Oct-11 12:03:06

do gay people not have families and commitments too then?

I doubt it's any higher than average - how many gay MPs are you aware of anyway? It's just that when one comes out, or there are "suspicions" it gets into the newspapers. In most jobs, people can be gay or straight and nobody pays any particular attention.

Whippet Wed 26-Oct-11 13:50:16

tooearly - yes, of course they have families and commitments, but I think it's probably fair to say that they are probably less likely to have the sort of "partner + 2 .4 kids" that a heterosexual MP has?

I personally know one gay female MP, and she openly admits that she has been able to devote time to her political career because she doesn't have children. Of course, I appreciate this can equally apply to single people too...

AMIS - you're probably right - in a high profile role it's probably more likely to be commented on, or they are more likely to be openly out.

I think a few years ago there was a figure of 6% of the population being gay that was being bandied about? And didn't Labour propose a 'target' of about 40 gay MPs (which was about 6% of MPs)?

Although I can think of lots of gay MPs, I certianly can't think of 40!

tooearlymustdache Wed 26-Oct-11 13:55:31

I'm rather disappointed at the insinuation that an adult with children cannot commit to being an MP, that's all.

Is this what you mean?

Whippet Wed 26-Oct-11 14:30:08

tooearly - I think that IS what I mean. I know that there ARE lots of MPs with partners & children, but everything I've ever read suggests that many of them find the current systems in parliament work against them in every way - the late night debates and votes, the weekend constituency work, the lack of facilities for e.g. babies in the commons. I read a lot of political biographies, and in many of the male ones it is clear that they are either happy, or are forced, to accept that their families need to survive without seeing them much, or in the case of female MPs, that they have to delegate the task of raising children to nannies/ partners/ grandparents or borading schools.

Don't know the stats so not sure if your premise is right but...

Is it possible that people who've grown up being slightly outside normal expectations might feel injustice more strongly than others (as a % of population) and therefore be moved to go into politics?

Whippet Wed 26-Oct-11 14:43:02

Lemon - yes - I see what you mean - be more moved to change things?

strandednomore Wed 26-Oct-11 14:47:00

THere always seemed to be a disproportionally high number of gay men in the FCO as well, I always wondered the same - was it because the life style was less conducive to having a family? (and I can confirm the lifestyle isn't massively conducive to havin a family although of course many do).

seeker Wed 26-Oct-11 18:52:48

They also tend to be better off, educated people moving in liberal/intellectual/chattering class circles.with loads of self confidence. Just the sort to find coming-out easier.

JLK2 Mon 31-Oct-11 08:22:01

It's because of the gay mafia that runs so much of this country.

MMMarmite Sat 05-Nov-11 15:00:35

I'd really like some statistics on this, because I've always thought that gay politicians were underrepresented. But I don't have stats, that's just my impression. What evidence do you have?

notcitrus Sat 05-Nov-11 19:17:05

Trying to find up to date list of out gay MPs, and seems to be impossible, though articles cite 10 out Tory MPs and 6 Labour so I must have missed a couple.
Chris Bryant
Chris Smith
(Matthew Parris, ex MP)
Angela Eagle
Ben Bradshaw

Greg Barker
Alan Duncan
Nick Herbert
Nigel Evans
Crispin Blunt
(Michael Brown, ex MP)
Nick Boles
Iain Stewart
Margot James
Stuart Andrew

Lib Dem:
Steve Gilbert
Mike Hancock
David Laws
(Mark Oaten, ex MP)

Don't think any other parties have any. And there's of course the non-MP Peter Mandelson...
20-odd out of 650 = 1 in 32.5 or 3%, so not exactly high!

claig Sat 05-Nov-11 19:23:50

Matthew Parris was a very good Tory MP plus David Laws

That's 16 out of 650 MPs.

2 lesbian women out of 144 women MPs.

OP - your point is disproved.

MMMarmite Sun 06-Nov-11 12:38:41

Thanks for the research notcitrus and Katharine

Taghain Fri 11-Nov-11 21:26:18

But those are just the "out" MP's, who have made a point of letting their sexuality be known. I suspect that is a higher % than in the general population.

I'd guess there is some form of overcompensating going on with many MPs, with them having felt outsiders and excluded in youth, and then pushing to make a name for themselves.

It's one aspect of the "anyone who seeks power should automatically be exclued from it" syndrome.

Monica3000 Tue 09-Apr-13 13:56:42

It is not true that 10% of the population is homosexual - it's only about 2%, of which 1.5% are men and 0.5% women.
There are far more gay MPS than your realize, and from time to time the "out" ones hint at this.
2% of 650 would be 11, but I bet we have got far more than that. For example David Laws kept it very quiet so that he could claim more in expenses.

somebloke123 Tue 09-Apr-13 16:15:37

I remember reading a piece by Matthew Parris in which he said that if the truth were known about the number of gay MPs it would exceed the wildest dreams of Peter Tatchell's gay lobby group (Outrage ??).

As Parris was an MP himself for many years and is gay himself I would think he's a fairly reliable source.

Why that should be I don't know.

Solopower1 Sat 13-Apr-13 10:29:13

I think that as long as it is more difficult for people with family responsibilities (including caring for elderly or disabled relatives) to do their jobs, then, inevitably, it will be the men and women who delegate their family responsibilities or don't have any, who will have more time and energy to devote to their jobs and will rise to the top.

Solopower1 Sat 13-Apr-13 10:30:09

Which doesn't necessarily mean there are more gay people at the top - just more people with fewer family responsibilities.

lljkk Sat 13-Apr-13 10:35:47

I'm rather disappointed at the insinuation that an adult with children cannot commit to being an MP

I think it's self-evidently true for most people. There is no such thing as work-life balance. it's an exceptional person who can adequately juggle both.

We need more openly gay people as MPs, not fewer.

Solopower1 Sat 13-Apr-13 10:48:22

Agree, lljkk, and in all walks of life. And transgender. It's interesting (to me, at least) that I am increasingly coming across young people who are not clearly either male or female, and you have to find out who they identify with. Luckily the two people I have met recently understand that it is difficult for other people to know which pronoun to use, and tolerate mistakes - but it can't be very pleasant for them. I wonder if we shouldn't have an alternative to he or she, her, him, etc - like we did with Mrs and Miss (Ms).

A bit off the subject - sorry.

boxershorts Sat 13-Apr-13 11:27:38

the greatest ememrgence of gays is in acting and entertaining.

WilsonFrickett Sat 13-Apr-13 13:35:15

Evidence for that claim please boxershorts?

I don't dispute that it's easier to be out in the acting/entertainment industries, but don't make the assumption that there are more gay people involved. Just that it's one of the very few industries where bring gay won't harm your career at all.

Similarly with MP's, the almost opposite is true. Being gay could potentially hurt your career and send the Fail into a lashing frenzy so people make a choice - get in front of the story by coming out, or keep your head down and hope it stays hidden.

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Apr-13 17:50:15

LOVE that list!!!!

Mike Hancock .... Gay !!!

poshme Sun 09-Jun-13 18:51:12

Well I know of at least 1 more MP who's gay not on the list but I'm not naming, as I'm not sure if he's openly out...

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 12-Jun-13 07:25:51

I don't know if MPs are disproportionately gay but there must be some side-effect of belonging to a persecuted minority that potentially politicises an individual. Unlike other more 'visible' minorities that suffer multiple problems, not only of prejudice but also social, educational or financial disadvantage that might bar them from selection to office, a gay man who is discreet about his sex life does not attract the same knee-jerk discrimination.

lljkk Thu 27-Jun-13 20:31:34

Well... if I was someone who had to wrestle with something integral to me but hotly debated about by society, about the very morality of it, I would have had to think long and hard about morality, about rights & wrongs. More than the average person, probably. And then I might have wanted to change the world to a better place so that it would be more tolerant about people like me and less tolerant about things that actually matter. So I could see why oddball people are more likely than Jo Nothing Unusual Bloggs to enter politics.

lljkk Thu 27-Jun-13 20:32:02

(Snap, Cognito!)

Solopower1 Sat 20-Jul-13 15:25:32

IF the proportion of gay MPs is higher, could it also be because more men now take on a higher share of family commitments? So there are now proportionately fewer straight men MPs but more women and gay people in Parliament?

Does anyone know if MPs have fewer children than the general population? (--Might account for some very dodgy childcare policies, past and present--). Do MPs have more or fewer responsibilities for aged parents? If these differences exist, it might not be that there are more gay MPs but it could be that more gay people become MPs, iyswim.

We know MPs are mostly wealthier and better educated than the rest of us, so, again IF there are more gay MPs, does that mean that the richer and better educated you are, the more likely you are to be gay?

I suppose if MPs are not representative of the general population in any other way, there is no reason to expect there to be the same proportion of gay, black or female members.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 16:36:17

MPs traditionally made a big thing about being 'family men' with wives & kids. Very respectable image and look how quick Milliband tied the knot after assuming office. But the MP role is not family friendly with irregular hours & lots of travelling (if constituency is outside London). Plenty of MPs' spouses/partners have to make big sacrifices to enable the one in public office to devote 24/7 to it. It's the ideal job for a single person or for a couple with no dependants.

I don't think gay men are generally wealthier or better educated than the rest of us but being gay (unlike being a member of another minority group) is not a handicap either. The gay couple I'm closest to are from humble beginnings and normal state education but pretty successful in their respective careers. If they've had an advantage it's that they've never had to take time out, reduce their hours or incur big costs raising kids.

Solopower1 Sat 20-Jul-13 18:06:27

I sort of agreed with what you and lljkk said earlier about people who face discrimination possibly becoming politicised, but while it might make some people determined to change things, others just become ground down and lose hope. Otherwise we'd have a lot more MPs from disadvantaged sections of society. Sadly some problems are just too hard for individuals to solve, but luckily, as you say, being gay doesn't seem to be a barrier to political success.

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