In praising a more diverse parliament, Labour MP Chris Bryant has said some days a part of the Westminster complex is “virtually a gay bar”.
Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, was speaking at a debate on Parliamentary representation yesterday evening when he made the comment about the Strangers Bar, The Week records.
Referring to the establishment, which is only accessible to members of the public as guests of MPs, he said: “It is significant that we now have more out gay Members of Parliament than ever before.
“Indeed, sometimes when you go into the Strangers Bar you feel as though you are in Rupert street. It is virtually a gay bar now, and my husband sometimes worries about whether I should be allowed in there any more.”
Hansard records the main point of Bryant’s speech as the two principles that prejudice should be avoided and “Parliament should look like the country that it is meant to represent”.
But, he added, the number of gay MPs does not “come near matching the numbers in the country in terms of the percentage of the population.
“It is a great sadness to me that there are still only two out lesbians in Parliament, because two prejudices have been, as it were, tied together to form one.”
He also reacted to an earlier comment by Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, who said: “One of the most powerful things that we can be is role models [...] People who might be inspired to go into politics need to be able to see that there are people like them in Parliament. That is one of the most powerful ways of getting more people involved in politics.”
Bryant, Shadow Minister for Borders and Immigration, responded: “I hope to God nobody will ever think of me as a role model in relation to anything whatsoever at any time.”
The official Westminster transcript records him being interrupted and told “not to worry, because nobody does”.
He replied: “That is very generous.”
Bryant and his partner Jared Cranney were the first gay men to enter into a civil partnership in the Palace of Westminster.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow obtained a licence from Westminster city council to hold the services in the Palace.
Chris Bryant was also once asked by ex-News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks: “Oh, Mr Bryant, it’s after dark – shouldn’t you be on Clapham Common?”