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Education minister Nick Gibb has vowed to stamp out homophobic playground bullying as he opened up about his personal battle to publicly admit his sexuality.
The Tory MP, who kept his relationship a secret for 29 years, wants to wipe out the use of the word “gay” as a term of abuse in schools.
Mr Gibb, who married his long-term partner Michael two years ago, said widespread intolerance and discrimination meant it had been easier previously not to tell people they were together.
But he told the Mail On Sunday the secrecy of his past had made him “determined” to make a difference for LGBT people.
In an article for the newspaper, he wrote: “Having felt the need to be silent for decades about my sexuality, I am determined to make a positive difference. I will be tireless in ensuring that all gay, lesbian, bi and trans people can live free, happy and fulfilling lives.”
Mr Gibb said he expected teachers to discipline pupils who use the word “gay” in a bullying manner.
Around £3 million is being spent on anti-homophobic and transphobic programmes.
A national survey is being launched that will ask 1.5 million LGBT people in the UK to give their views on public services to help inform government policy.
Mr Gibb wrote: “As a gay man who has been in a loving and stable relationship for more than 30 years, I have seen social attitudes change significantly.
“I met Michael in a different era, and one that was much harder than today. There was widespread intolerance, discrimination in the professions and a very hostile press – not least towards politicians.
“It was easier for us to have a relationship that wasn’t known about. This meant we missed out on things that most people take for granted. Having children was out of the question. We didn’t go to parties or attend family dinners as a couple. We spent every Christmas apart. Many other LGBT people had a much more difficult and challenging time.”
He added: “Bullying at school is cruel, particularly as LGBT pupils are coming to terms with their sexuality or gender. I am determined that we stamp out the use of the word gay as a pejorative term.”
Additional reporting by Press Association.
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