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Former BP chief says gays and lesbians are still forced to hide their sexuality

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  1. What a load of old rubbish.

    This Browne character is simply trying to excuse the fact that he would have stayed closeted until the end of his days if he had had the chance to do so.

    Have you ever noticed that it is only people who lack the bravery to come out, of their own free will, who say ‘Homophobia is so terrible that it’s not possible to come out’.

    Britain despite some lingering areas of inequality (such as civil partnership apartheid) is a very gay friendly country. There is no industry or business where one is obliged to remain closeted.

    People CHOOSE to remain closeted out of self interest, and then whine about homophobia when caught out.

    If Browne (or Laws for that matter) really want to understand hwo pathetic they appear the should try living in Uganda or Saudi Arabia.

    They should quit whining and get on with it.

  2. And think of how damaging this article by Browne will be to the confidence of a closeted 16 year old. They don’t need some incredibly wealthy, powerful closet case confirming their worst fears about being gay – isolation and condemnation.

    Browne should be ashamed of himself for writing this article.

    The fact that he lacked the courage to come out, of his own free will, is quite pathetic (albeit sort of understandable).

    he should not however start writing articles for national newspapers to try to find excuses for being closeted and encouraging others to do so.

    I have more respect for David Laws who at least recognised how pathetic his choice to remain in the closet was.

  3. @ StephenC

    Yet again you show how out of touch you are with reality and that next time you have a hospital visit they may need to check your heart…. to see where it has gone.

    By law we very well may be better than we were but if you insist Britain is ‘gay-friendly’ then please do prove this. Please go to Council estate of tower blocks in Mancester, Glasgow, may around the country. Go to a Mosque. Go to the football terraces. Go to the many religious employees… just to name a few and please demonstrate how ‘easy’ it is to be openly gay. You may find that the response you get may not be far removed from the likes of Uganda etc.

    It is very sad that here in the 21st Century there clearly is still a lot of homophobia in the work place and a problem with succeed. I guess it must be a Good thing about Stonewall and their making aware of companies that are both gay-friendly and not so.

    It is indeed still a problem but with some understanding I can see why some choose to come out later in life because of it. Of course the only positive is that if people in high positions did come out when at the top then how can then employers argue about it without facing court action.

    Of course those many companies that do equally promote should rightly be publically shown and credited for doing so.

    Every single person has a right to be able to keep their life private if they wish to do so. Nobody has to ‘come out’. It is not a requirement. We spent years arguing that nobody should be judged on their sexuality for being the best person for the job.

    The likes of StephenC clearly feel that we all should be judged on sexuality (and probably colour ah StephenC?) before doing a job.

    Of course those closeted cases who mean to do harm that is entirely different. I have no problem with them being shown up for the disgraceful hypocrites they are.

    But StephenC are you that naive that just because PinkNews doesn’t report every single case of homophobia in the UK, that somehow it doesn’t happen. Are people not still being murdered for being LGBT? Are people not being attacked in the street? Bullied in their home by neighbours? In some cases by families? So why not in the work place?

    Lets not forget your homophobia you show towards Stonewall.

  4. de Villiers 16 Jul 2010, 11:56am

    It is a very real problem in the City.

  5. I am astonished by some of these comments, I do not like Lord Browne – but he makes a good point. The UK is gay friendly? I have too many scars to believe that lie. There are places I stay closeted not because of comfort but because of real fear for my safety – fear based on experience and hospital visits not paranoia. Maybe the UK is gay tolerant so long as we don’t push the straight people too far (for their definition of too far) – but not gay friendly, certainly not. Not yet.

    We aren’t there yet. We’re still acttacked, driven from our homes and some of us face utter hell in the work place – and there’s a limit to how much the law can change that. Discrimination is hard to prove in the work place and most employers are savy enough to use euphemisms and excuse when exercising their prejudice.

  6. Mihangel apYrs 16 Jul 2010, 1:16pm

    I’m in the same age band (albeit 6 years younger than Browne) so I can speak with experience of the nastiness, bullying and homophobia of when we were growing up. However, he chose to live a closetted life which ultimately led him to perjure himself. The perjury was what did it for him, not his sexuality (that was probably an open secret anyway)

    He gambled and won a lot and then lost a bit while all the while benefitting from the efforts and example of those of us not hiding away. We campaigned if only by speaking out for equalities, we led quiet lives where we spoke about our partners to those who asked, but we were true to ourselves. (Sorry if that sounds smug, but I am proud that I have made small differences).

    Browne, like Mandelson, could have shifted, if only a bit, opinion when it could have made a difference, they didn’t.

    However, I am pleased that Browne is now living for himself not his image

  7. If you read my post properly you’ll see that the point I make is that there is no profession or industry (except maybe if you’re a priest) in Britain where you are obliged to remain in the closet.

    Browne was an extremely powerful multi-millionaire working in industry.

    His free choice to keep his sexuality hidden was not motivated by a desire not to get beaten up in his council flat in a tower block.

    He chose to do so, simply not to rock the boat. There would have beem no consequences for his life or his safety or his bank account by coming out.

    He chose to remain closeted to protect his status. This is an ENTIRELY different matter than remaining closeted for fear your family will throw you out. It is borne out of self interest and cowardice.

    And for him to then try to excuse his foolishness and lack of courage by whining ‘Oh it’s sooooooo terrible to be gay’ is sending an APPALLING message to anybody who is struggling with their sexuality.

    As for Squidgy’s comment: “Lets not forget your homophobia you show towards Stonewall. ”

    Elaborate please.

    I have contempt for any group which believes that my homosexuality means that I should be denied access to a legal contract.

    If homophobia means hating or discriminating against someone because they are gay, then I have not engaged in any such behaviour. Unlike Stonewall who believe that gay people be decnied access to the contract of civil marriage because of our sexuality. Browne should get a job with them. They sound well suited.

  8. Browne was the chief executive of BP – yes BP. The company currently in crisis because of the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

    One does not become the chief executive of a multi-billion pound industrty and remain so for years by being soft and kind and caring. One needs to be ruthless and tough. Which by all accounts Browne was.

    If he was capable of running a billion pound company (which is currently being investiagted for lobbying the British government to release the only jailed Lockerbie bomber) then it really beggars belief that Browne is now whining about how coning out would have been too difficult for him.

    He is not a 17 year old living with fundementalist christian parents.

    he is not a 16 year old lesbian living in a rough council estate.

    He is not a muslim man being pressured by his family into marrying.

    He is an extremely rich, powerful, tough, influential person.

  9. @ StephenC

    Quote:-
    “If homophobia means hating or discriminating against someone because they are gay, then I have not engaged in any such behaviour.”

    You have nothing But shown hatred and discimination towards Stonewall… Repeatedly! (plus those that support it!)

  10. I have asked you so many times that I gave up. I will ask you 1 more time. Please provide proof of you comment:-

    “…Stonewall who believe that gay people be denied access to the contract of civil marriage because of our sexuality.”

    I have Never seen or heard Stonewall say such things but maybe I haven’t looked in the right placed. Please provide Stonewall Quotes.

  11. Why do some people who have not had the experience of a situation think that they know more about an experience that someone else has had?

    StephenC, have you been the chairman of a multi national company? If not, then why do you think you know more about that world than someone who has?

    How exactly do you know that what Lord Browne says is ‘a load of old rubbish’? You seem to know his life, as if you are him. Which I am quite certain you are not.

    Perhaps if you listen to someone else’s experiences without judging it, then you may learn something, rather than thinking you already know the truth of what it is they are trying to tell you.

    All I can tell you is from my own experience. I am very successful in my own chosen profession. But, I do know that being gay, and out of the closet, has held me back in terms of promotion within the field I work in. I know if I was living a lie, as a straight man, I would be even more successful than I am. That is just the way it is. That is what homophobia is. It doesn’t bother me that I am not as successful professionally than I would have been if I was seen as being heterosexual, that is why I chose to come out of the closet. But what this man says is true, wether you like it or not. Gay rights advocates are trying to change that, but as he says ‘homophobia is still commonplace in public life’……..that statement is not a load of old rubbish.

    I chose to come out of the closet for self interest, my interest being that love, sex and honesty were more important to me than wealth, promotion and lies. The only difference with this man is that he chose different self interests. They are not wrong, they are just different.

  12. “You have nothing But shown hatred and discimination towards Stonewall… Repeatedly! (plus those that support it!) ”

    Oh you are such a berk.

    Homophobia means hatred and discrimination against someone because they are gay.

    It does NOT mean having comtempt for a group who are ineffectual and irrelevant and opposed to equal rights.

    “Please provide Stonewall Quotes.”

    From Ben Summerskill in response to as question asked here on Pink News about why Stonewall are opposed to legal equalitty for gay people, his PATHETIC response was “we know there are lots of lesbians who actually don’t want marriage”

    Stonewall refuse to confirm that they even support, even IN PRINCIPLE the right of same sex couples to get a civil marriage. Their obstinate refusal to support marriage equality is certainly very sinister and in my view is motivated by homophobia.

    To turn the tables on you – I would ask YOU to supply me a quote which shows that Stonewall support civil marriage equality ie that they support the right of same sex couples to enter a civil marruage on the exact same terms as opposite sex couples.

    If you can show me a quote stating that Stonewal support marriage equality I will accept it. You won’t find it however as Stonewall refuse to support the right of gay couples to get married.

  13. “StephenC, have you been the chairman of a multi national company? If not, then why do you think you know more about that world than someone who has?”

    No I have not been a chairman of a billion pound company. But I do know more about coming out of the closet as unlike Browne that is something that I actually chose to do of my own free will being well aware of the potential consequences.

    Unlike me Browne has no experience growing up in a conseervative village in the west of Ireland with nosey, homophobic neighbours, but deciding to come out at the age of 16.

    How on EARTH does Browne claim to know that coming out would have been ‘too difficult’. How can he make that claim when he has actually come out voluntarily himself?

    He never came out, so he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He is engaging in self-serving speculation (remember that he lost his job, not for being gay but for lying to a court).

    You have come out Jay. As have I. My career has not suffered by being gay. So I do no appreciate the likes of a multi-millionaire closet case deigning to tell me that coming out will damage my life.

  14. Typo: I meant to say:

    “How on EARTH does Browne claim to know that coming out would have been ‘too difficult’. How can he make that claim when he has never actually come out voluntarily himself?”

  15. @ StephenC

    I see you can’t answer my question Yet again so your hatred is based on mere hearsay. Yet you constantly spew your misleading and just plain wrong accusations and expect everyone else to drop everything and follow suit.

    Stonewall are a LGT organisation based for gay people. You show nothing but contempt and hatred for them so being that they are gay your vile spew must be regarded as homophobia. Therefore StephenC you are homophobic.

    Stonewall have Never said that LGT should never have civil marriage. They have never not supported marriage. They have said they support but believe timing is of the essence.

    Stonewall I believe have accepted gay marriage in the UK will come but in time. Stonewall do much work in support of LGT with regards to so many things I believe that patience is indeed how things should be played. The fact your way is impatience and the selfish me, me, me attitude shows all your interested in is you and nobody else.

    I know marriage in the UK will come and as support from communities across the UK gather support Stonewall will no doubt push harder.

    I would rather the subject of marriage came with majority support and without the threat of a backlash and violence. I believe your way would create that and I have no doubt that you feel thats the price worth paying but I and many others don’t.

    Your accusations are unfounded, made up to suit your own twisted warped mind. You can’t be bothered and Never have been bothered to find out the truth so instead spew your vicious lies. I repeat you are a homophobe!

    Back to the story in hand. Maybe StephenC if you opened your mind instead of being so closed minded you’d see that a lot of people don’t have it easy to ‘come-out’ esp in the work place. Just because you clearly had it so easy don’t assume everyone else does. it just doesn’t work that way. You’re too dismissive of people and the lives they have a right to choose. Fine you have choosen yours but stop preaching everyone else should be the same.

  16. Mihangel apYrs 16 Jul 2010, 3:43pm

    pax StephenC,I didn’t defend his actions, merely undeerstood tehm in part.

    Unlike him, I can look back and reflect that I made a difference for us.

  17. Stonewall’s refusal to even acknowledge that they support in principle the right of gay people to get married is entirely unacceptable. End of story. Their refusal to accept in principle the right of same sex couples to enter the contract of marriage, has massively damaged their reputation and their legitimacy.

    End of story.

    As for your other point: “Maybe StephenC if you opened your mind instead of being so closed minded you’d see that a lot of people don’t have it easy to ‘come-out’ esp in the work place. Just because you clearly had it so easy don’t assume everyone else does. ”

    Indeed – I had it very, very easy. I was extremely lucky to come out in a rural, conservative, village in the West of Ireland aged 16 in the year 1992. The fact that homosexuality was a illegal in Ireland until 1993 made this decision even easier for me.

    On the other hand poor unfortunate Browne was living in constant fear. Here he was – an extraordinarily powerful, massively wealthy, middle aged man, living in a country where being gay is not a crime, simply TERRIFIED of the consequences of being honest.

    Incidentally my problem with Browne is not the fact that he was in the closet (incomprehensible as that is to me).

    My problem with Browne is that he is not qualified to tell people the supposed dangersn of coming out.

    He never came out, so he is engaging in complete speculation when he says how damaging coming would have been.

    How on earth would he know. He has no personal experience of it?

  18. stephenC – “And think of how damaging this article by Browne will be to the confidence of a closeted 16 year old.”

    trust me, any closeted 16 year old that comes on this website will be more damaged by the comments left by the readers than anything Browne says.

  19. “Stonewall’s refusal to even acknowledge that they support in principle the right of gay people to get married is entirely unacceptable. End of story. Their refusal to accept in principle the right of same sex couples to enter the contract of marriage, has massively damaged their reputation and their legitimacy.

    End of story.”

    There you go again. Making up mindless accusations. You have just proved all your about is stirring the problems with no regard for facts but your only purpose is to spread vile spew and lies.

    You ain’t worth it. It’s no wonder PinkNews has blocked you several times. End Of!

  20. I think that the issue with Gay marraige is the fact that some people believe that those insistent on it are only hung up on the name, since the issues of discrimination are about legal rights, and not names. That’s why you cannot call Stonewall homophobic for this reason, no matter how much you disagree with them on it.

  21. Squidgy dear.

    Why are you ignoring my perfectly reasonable request to you to supply quotes which show Stonewall support marriage equality.

    I responded to your request for a quote so I expect the same courtesy from you in return (instead of your current tactic of trying to sully my immaculate reputation)

  22. Actually no you didn’t. You through back the question because you couldn’t be bother to find the facts. I replied with the facts. You didn’t bother with them then. If you don’t want to believe them then thats your problem as your not interested in the truth but to stir, bitch and spread lies.

    You must have rubbed off a bit because you know what I can’t be bothered with ya. If you want the facts go find em. I provided them too but Why though coz facts are not what your interested in. Prove me wrong.

    Lastly, I do not waste my time with nasty, vicious homophobes so you’ll of course forgive me for not responding to you any more. It’s pointless. You clearly have no respect for other human beings esp when it comes to difficulties people experience at work.

    No More….End Of!

  23. “I do not waste my time with nasty, vicious homophobes so you’ll of course forgive me for not responding to you any more. It’s pointless. You clearly have no respect for other human beings”

    Oh dear.

    People who refuse to engage in an arguement but instead resort to untruths and personal attack, automatically lose the arguement.

    Well that was easy.

  24. Ignoring for the time being the spat on Stonewall, could de Viliers please talk to us a bit more about alleged homophobia in the City? I work in a very large and very gay friendly City law firm and feel utterly comfortable with my sexuality.

  25. Jock S. Trap 16 Jul 2010, 5:11pm

    People need to be more sympathic towards others who don’t have an easier time coming out, especially at work. Praise for all the firms that do but its clear that intolerance in the workplace is still wide spread and needs to be tackled.
    As for comment (23) from what I can see Squidgy has engaged fully in the arguement. It is you who seems to wish to ignore facts put in front of you. You are obviously completely incapable in engaging in proper debate, which raises the question, if you can’t/won’t do debate why else are you here other than to cause trouble?

  26. I would be very interested in a survey on showing the LGBT community and their experiences in the workplace in the UK in 2010.

    Could PinkNews take this up? Or has it been done.

    It would be interesting to see how many people are open and accepted to those who either feel the need to hide or simply choose to hide their sexuality.

  27. Mihangel apYrs 16 Jul 2010, 6:50pm

    for information only (do not assume what my feelings are!)

    Stonewall has launched an Equality Index questionaire for companies and their employees. Of coursse it is only employers who engage with Stonewall so the results will tend to suggest supportive environments, but it is something.

  28. Sister Mary Clarance 16 Jul 2010, 7:50pm

    Lord Browne headed a company at the forefront of diversity long before it ever became popular to do so.

    Irrespective of whether he chose to remain in the closet he ensured that his company recognised the value that gay people and all other minority groups could bring and ensure a culture of respect towards all of his staff.

    He has championed equality for years and enabled gay people to thrive in a business sector not often associated with mutual respect and understanding.

    It is pitiful that the same old people are banging on about pettiness and rubbishing the efforts of a man who should be held in the highest esteem for his lifetime work in ensuring that his company personified equality when others hadn’t got the first clue what it meant.

  29. Derek Williams 16 Jul 2010, 7:53pm

    I have been openly gay since the age of 18, in an era where I could have been imprisoned for having an equal power, consensual relationship with a person of the same gender as myself. Now 40 years on, I am still openly gay, yet even now I find it judicious to bide my time before allowing it to become known, as I do not wish to be thought of mainly as a homosexual first, and then as a person second.

    While I am glad to say I have never had a single adverse reaction from any friend, colleague or member of my family, I know only to well that such good fortune has not necessarily been the lot of all who have come out, or who have been forcibly outed.

    It will remain to me forever a mystery that ordinary individuals who mean no harm to anyone can be executed, tortured, imprisoned, assaulted, abused, excommunicated and disenfranchised for the simple act of showing a simple, positive human reaction to another member of the human race.

  30. No 25: Jock S Trap: you say: “As for comment (23) from what I can see Squidgy has engaged fully in the arguement. It is you who seems to wish to ignore facts put in front of you. You are obviously completely incapable in engaging in proper debate, which raises the question, if you can’t/won’t do debate why else are you here other than to cause trouble?”

    I (ie StephenC) am not causing trouble. I am merely questioning his support for Stonewall – the organisation who thinks he does not deserve marriage equality (and let’s all bear in mind that it was Squidgy who introduced Stonewall into this discussion).

    Squidgy refuses to answer my request to give quotes which support the arguement that Stonewall believe in marriage equality.

    No LGBT person should support the ‘right’ of someone to stay in the closet.

    Being in the closet is not a right in Britain.

    It is a choice. And it is a valid choice.

    But that choice does not necessarily deserve respect.

  31. Three quick points for what they’re worth.

    Firstly, there’s a delicious irony in that StephenC criticises people for lacking the bravery to come out… while hiding behind a pen name ! Stephen, if you’re really so brave, tell us your full name and address.

    Secondly, there are others to consider. IIRC Lord Browne’s mother is a Catholic and is presumably in her 80s. Sadly, she and many people of her generation and religion could be quite distraught at finding that her son is gay; regrettable of course, but that’s how it is. So although society as a whole may gain from well-known people coming out, individuals have to consider not only how it may affect them but also how those around them would cope.

    Thirdly, as head of BP Lord Browne no doubt would have had to visit many Middle Eastern countries where homosexuality is not accepted or illegal. It’s hardly surprising that he chose discretion rather than risk arrest and prosecution or worse; if he’d been out he’d wouldn’t have been appointed chief executive. Now that he’s out (albeit unintentionally) he’s able to get attention and campaign effectively for us, something that wouldn’t have been possible if he’d been sidetracked by BP.

    We should encourage and support everyone to come out, but we have to recognise that it’s a very personal decision that’s much easier for some than others. No-one should be criticised for staying silent, unless their public persona is homophobic.

  32. People are NOT “forced” to stay in the closet. People are “pressured” to stay in the closet. There is a difference. “Forced” takes away personal responsibility and degrades the courage and effort of those who, in spite of the pressures, sometimes overwhelming pressures, take the difficult step and face the joys and consequences of coming out.

  33. Mihangel apYrs 17 Jul 2010, 9:01am

    SMC
    he perjured himself giving the lie to his ex-partner. merely to protect his image.

    He is not an exemplar of probity nor a role model

  34. Sister Mary Clarance 17 Jul 2010, 4:14pm

    Yes Michangel but did it diminish one iota anything that he has done to benefit gay people in his company (and much wider) in the decades that preceded?

  35. Mihangel apYrs 17 Jul 2010, 4:34pm

    SMC

    I take your points, but must repeat that he perjured himself to protect his image, and I’m afraid that will be the main thing he will be remembered for.

    I can’t comment on his behaviour at BP since I don’t know about it. I would just say that he would have earned greater cudoes by coming out, but I do recognise that he had his reasons, and he didn’t act (apparently) against LGBT interests.

    Hoever, I do feel that the article was self-serving, very much a matter of the zeal of the convert

  36. For whatever reasons, Browne chose to cover up an active gay life, while benefiting from the priveleges and responsibilities of a very public role

    That he did so and then got caught out, can perhaps command our understanding and pity, but never our respect.

    It could have all been so different – Sir Michael Bishop’s exemplary career comes to mind – and there a plenty of others.

    Given how gentle his fall from grace has been, thanks to the tireless campaigning of people less powerful and less able than he, I’m sure he now regrets the way he played his hand. He could have been a respected figure and force for progress.

    As it is, he is not. And he’d best keep off this particular subject, lest he sound whining and self-justifying, campaign for something positive for gay people, and put ahealthy portion of his wealth into serving the gay community.

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