Tory MP and deputy Speaker Nigel Evans says Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas inspired him to announce he is gay.

His sexuality was an open secret around Westminster but Mr Evans decided to come out fully in December.

He claimed that an unnamed former Labour MP had threatened to out him.

Speaking to the BBC’s Politics Show, Mr Evans said that reading about fellow Welshman Gareth Thomas being gay spurred him to make the announcement.

He said: “I went to a diversity talk by Gareth Thomas the rugby player, who talked about his own sexuality, and I thought ‘Hold on, if this iconic rugby player can make it known that he’s gay, what’s keeping me back?’

“It was certainly an open secret in Westminster and the support I’ve had since making the announcement has been superb, throughout the constituency and indeed all over the place.”

He added: “Being a deputy Speaker of the House of Commons I think gives you special responsibility.

“And I know there is still harassment and bullying that goes on in schools and a lot of young people really do anguish over their own sexuality and whether they should declare it.

“The average age for coming out is about 17 or 18 and I do apologise to the gay community for me dragging that up somewhat by leaving it so late.”