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Thursday, November 12, 1998 Published at 07:25 GMT


Sun changes mind over gays

The Sun said it would not invade the privacy of gay people

The Sun newspaper has declared that it is changing its approach to homosexuals in public life.

The announcement comes just days after the newspaper questioned whether Britain was being run by what it called a gay mafia.

Media Correspondent Torin Douglas on the Sun's change of policy
The paper's editor, David Yelland, said that in future, the paper would not "out" gay people unless it was in the public interest.

He said: "We will continue to be in the vanguard of this debate - and all debates - but we will not invade the privacy of gay people by outing them."

Mr Yelland added: "The Sun is no longer in the business of destroying closet gays' lives by 'exposing' them as homosexuals.

"We hope eventually that all gay people will feel free to come out thus ensuring that charges that there is a 'gay mafia' become irrelevant."

On Monday the paper carried the front page headline "Are we being run by a gay mafia?"

The newspaper asked the question after what it said was the revelation that a fourth member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Cabinet - Agriculture Minister Nick Brown - was gay.

[ image: The Sun said Nick Brown was fourth Cabinet member to be revealed as gay]
The Sun said Nick Brown was fourth Cabinet member to be revealed as gay
In its Thursday editorial, the paper said it would only now report "outings" if it thought they were "newsworthy or relevant".

Otherwise, the paper promised it "will not invade the privacy of gay people".

The reason behind this decision, the paper said, was because it recognised that times had changed.

It said: "Our readers are tolerant of private behaviour and find unwarranted intrusion offensive."

The Sun said it hoped its statement would encourage gays to feel more at ease.

Finally the paper asks:" Now, can we please all get on with what REALLY matters in life?"

Parris column dropped

It also emerged on Wednesday night that the Sun had dropped the weekly column written by political commentator Matthew Parris.

Mr Parris said he was telephoned by Mr Yelland on Wednesday afternoon to be told in a "perfectly pleasant" way of the decision to drop his column.

He had the clear impression the move was "not unconnected" to his "outing" last week of a politician on television.

Mr Parris insisted he did not regret his comments: "This kind of thing makes me more and more certain that when I talk about government news blackouts, I'm on to something."

He said of the paper: "I have enjoyed writing for it and I have rather got to like Sun readers, many of whom have written to me. I was enjoying the column and I'm sorry to lose it."

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