OutRage! plans protest at Kensington & Chelsea Candidate Selection Meeting

      OutRage! has accused the former Conservative MP and ex-Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo, of "hypocrisy and homophobia". The gay rights group was responding to Mr. Portillo's self-outing in an interview in "The Times" newspaper on the 9th September.

      Portillo is widely tipped as a potential future Conservative party leader and Prime Minister. He is the most senior Tory MP to admit to having gay sex: although he claims he has not had sexual relations with men since he entered public life a generation ago.

Michael Portillo

      Following Mr. Portillo's revelation of his past gay relationships, Peter Tatchell of OutRage! said:

      "Michael Portillo is a hypocrite and homophobe. Despite his own gay relationships, he has consistently opposed gay human rights and has never shown any sympathy or support for the gay community.

      "Portillo is no friend of queer people. He voted for Section 28, against an equal age of consent and, as Defence Secretary, he enforced the ban on lesbians and gays in the armed forces.


      Just before the 1997 General Election, OutRage! erected a giant billboard in Portillo's constituency emblazoned with the words 'Portillo Screws Queer Soldiers', while leafleting local voters about his antigay record in Parliament, and displaying posters with the slogans: 'Portillo's buggered the army', 'Portillo sucks', and 'Portillo: No friend of Dorothy'.

      The preceeding summer of 1996, on the occasion of the annual Pride March, OutRage! erected the same billboard at the end of Whitehall, near the House of Commons, in protest at his policy, as Defence Secretary, of witch-hunting of lesbian and gay military personnel.

Portillo screws queer soldiers
"Portillo screws queer soldiers" banner in Parliament Square
Image Copyright: Steve Mayes, 1996

      On the night parliament voted against an equal age of consent in 1994, when news of the defeat on equality came through, 5,000 lesbians and gays massed outside the House of Commons spontaneously broke into a chant of 'Portillo is a faggot', furious that he voted against equalisation at 16.

      "OutRage! had Portillo on its outing hit-list because of his homphobia and hypocrisy. Under Britain's draconian libel laws, we could not name him because there was no one prepared to go public with what they knew about his secret gay life. Now he has outed himself.

      "What a pity Michael is still refusing to say anything positive about gay life and relationships. His continued unwillingness to express any empathy for the lesbian and gay community shows that he remains a cold-hearted, compassionless homophobe.

      "If he really cares, why doesn't he speak out against antigay discrimination?

      "Portillo has not changed. His dismissal of his past homosexual affairs as youthful experiences implies that he views gay relationships as an immature indiscretion", said Tatchell.


      "He has evaded the truth for a quarter of a century. How do we know he is now telling the truth when he claims that he has not had gay sex since he entered public life?

      "It is very unusual for someone who has had an eight-year gay affair, as Portillo had with Nigel Hart, to suddenly cease being homosexual. Even if they subsequently marry, these men tend to have occasional, discreet gay relations throughout the rest of their lives. I would be extremely surprised if Mr. Portillo has, as he claims, never had sex with a man in the last 25 years", said Tatchell.



      OutRage! is planning to intervene in the selection of the Conservative candidate for Kensington, and in the Kensington by-election, to highlight Michael Portillo's "hypocrisy, homophobia and failure to tell the full truth about his homosexuality".

      The gay rights group is making elaborate plans to embarrass Michael Portillo and the leadership of the Conservative Party.

      According to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!: "As his former lover Nigel Hart has revealed, Portillo's account of his past gay relationships is not the whole story. He has presented a dishonest version of his homosexual experiences.

      "Portillo asserts that his gayness was a passing dalliance, when he was a 'young person', during his student days at Cambridge. But according to Nigel Hart, he was having sex with Portillo until Portillo was 27, long after Portillo left university. -- Portillo's public version is evidently false.

      "Nigel Hart's account of his 'eight-year affair' with Portillo contradicts Portillo's claim that he has never had a 'full relationship' with a man.

      "Michael Portillo's homosexuality should not be used to bar his selection as a Tory candidate for Kensington. It is his hypocrisy, homophobia and economy with the truth that renders him unfit and unworthy to hold public office. How can the people of Kensington trust a candidate who has given a misleading account of his life?

      "The issues OutRage! will be highlighting in the Kensington selection and by-election are homophobia, hypocrisy, trust and integrity. On all four issues, Mr. Portillo is not a fit and proper candidate.

      "Michael Portillo is a hypocrite and homophobe. Despite his own gay relationships, he has consistently opposed gay human rights and has never shown any sympathy or support for the gay community.

      "Although taking a hard-line stand on law and order, Portillo broke the law by having gay sex with Nigel Hart at the age of 19, at a time when the homosexual age of consent was 21. Michael showed no respect for the law in his youth, but he now supports an age of consent law that criminalises 16 and 17 year old gay men. This is further evidence of his hypocrisy and double-standards.

      "Since coming out, he has not recanted his past support for discrimination against homosexuals. This shows that his claimed conversion to sexual tolerance and to the caring, liberal wing of conservatism is a fraud.

      "Portillo not only voted for Section 28. He also voted against three amendments to protect and support vulnerable young lesbians and gays, effectively endorsing the isolation and victimisation of homosexual teenagers.

      "On 15th December 1987, Portillo voted against amendments that would have allowed local authorities to:

  1. discourage anti-gay discrimination and protect the civil rights of homosexuals;
  2. provide counselling, advice and support to vulnerable, isolated lesbian and gay pupils;
  3. permit schools to teach awareness of different sexual orientations.

      "Portillo's vote against these three amendments shows him to be an unreconstructed hardline homophobe. Since Section 28, he has never expressed an ounce of regret for the way he voted."


Portillo security lapse lets in OutRage! 25-November-1999
Portillo Flees over Rooftops to avoid Questioning 23-November-1999
Portillo protest at Tory selection meeting 2-November-1999
Portillo protest at Tory preselection meeting 27-October-1999
BBC: Portillo on course for by-election 26-October-1999

BBC: Porter Portillo praises NHS "Transparent Stunt", 22-August-1999
BBC: Portillo: In his own words 9-September-1999
BBC: The path of Portillo 9-September-1999
BBC: Portillo's admission - the first comments 16-September-1999
BBC: Lord Tebbit -- Portillo 'not honest' about gay past 6-October-1999

Yahoo: Miscellaneous Tory News Items
Link to Conservative Party
Link to Ministry of Defence
Election Protest in Michael Portillo's Constituency 19-April-1997

Section 28: Schools attacked for buying gay sex education packs The Scotsman, 14-November-1999


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Last modified: 25-November-1999