Paul Canning argues that recent claims of homophobia by MPs exposed for extravagant expenses will no longer wash with the gay community.

Labour MPs Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant have claimed ‘homophobia’ as a defence against the recent expose of their expenses claims.

Bryant says he had to ‘flip’ homes due to nasty smears (presumably emanating from the infamous ‘underpants’ episode) being daubed on his Rhondda constituency home.

Bradshaw thinks the Daily Telegraph is homophobic because it called his partner his “boyfriend”.

Neither of these claims are being accepted by readers of PinkNews.co.uk, or at least those who have responded by leaving comments.

Nor should they accept such spurious arguments. The comment which most sums up my feelings is “What a pair of fantastic role models for young gay people to look up to – not”.

Another reader wrote: “Targeted because he’s gay? So Hazel Blears [is] a lesbian then, is she? John Prescott a great big homo?”

Bradshaw in particular seems to be resorting to a diversionary tactic which reminds me of “is it because I is black?” In addition, he tries to argue that gay MPs in general are being singled out saying: “It is very interesting that gay Tory MPs have also been smeared” – because the Telegraph once referred to Nick Herbert’s “boyfriend” rather than using the word “partner”.

Bradshaw ignores the fact that his government kow-towed to religious interests and refused to introduce gay marriage – something he has never, to my knowledge, done anything but defend.

Instead, the Labour government has resorted to the sexual apartheid of civil partnerships, which are literally ‘different but equal’. They also refused to introduce a similar ‘non-religious’ status for heterosexuals. So what the hell is Bradshaw’s partner’s ‘official’ title? If anything it’s ‘civil partner’!

‘Boyfriend’ is only homophobic if you read it as such. I understand fully that some use it with that intent but you have to see it in context. The rest of the Telegraph’s coverage on Bradshaw’s expenses is perfectly fair.

Bryant, defending his ‘double flipping’ and claiming a total of £92,415 in second home expenses since 2004 plus a £77,000 profit made when he moved again, puts it all down to having to “escape homophobic thugs who daubed lewd messages” on his main constituency property.

As readers of this website point out, if he was a real role model he would have pursued them and made sure the South Wales police did their job – he wouldn’t have been driven out or taken the police’s advice to move.

Can you imagine the reaction from the black community if he was black and shied away from defending himself from racist messages?

Plus there’s the small matter – as another commentator points out – that if one of his constituents were subject to homophobic attacks (and they weren’t living in social housing) they’d have to re-house themselves at their own cost.

Now that we have a great number and fair spread of openly gay public figures in the UK (although sadly not enough footballers) I think these comments display a bit of maturity in the gay community, like I think has happened in the black community. It’s no longer ‘my gay role model, right or wrong’.