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Sunday, November 15, 1998 Published at 12:34 GMT

UK Politics

'Your family matters most'

Francis Maude: "A buttoned up middle-class Brit"

Shadow Chancellor Francis Maude has recounted his experience of nursing his dying gay brother and called for an end to the "outing" of homosexual MPs.

Frances Maude: "Politicians are flesh and blood, not perfect"
The Tory MP for Horsham said any move towards forcing politicians reveal their sexuality was "disgusting".

"People should have parts of their lives which are private," he stated.

Mr Maude said that he had loved his brother Charles, who died of Aids in 1993, and the fact that he was gay did not detract from that.

[ image: Agriculture minister Nick Brown was
Agriculture minister Nick Brown was "outed"
He dismissed Lord Tebbit's proposal that gay men should be banned from sensitive government jobs, such as prime minister and home secretary.

"It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain," he told the Sunday Times.

"The hardest thing about Charles's illness was seeing someone strong and clever deteriorate like that.

"If someone close to you is dying because they are homosexual, it makes no difference, you still love the person."

Mr Maude, a committed Christian, admitted he was a classic "buttoned up middle-class Brit" who still found it difficult to deal with Charles's sexuality.

He said his parents also found it difficult to come to terms with.

But he added that his wife Christina had acted as a bridge between him and Charles.

[ image: Charles Maude was a staunch supporter of the London Lighthouse Aids charity]
Charles Maude was a staunch supporter of the London Lighthouse Aids charity
Graphic and stage designer Charles Maude discovered he was HIV-positive at the age of 35, in 1986.

He became a strong supporter of London Lighthouse, once persuading artists including Bacon, Freud, Frink and Hockney to donate their work to a fund-raising sale.

Charles moved in with Mr Maude's family during his last two years of life.

The whole episode brought Mr Maude, his two sisters and parents closer together and made him realise, as a politician, that his family came first.

He told GMTV: "I don't think it had a huge effect on my political thinking. I've always been, I hope, a tolerant fellow anyway."

Family matters most

"My two sisters were devastated, as I was, by Charles's death. My two sisters both shared the load with great pleasure and willingness.

"We were a close family and obviously the loss of someone you love very dearly does tend to draw you all closer together anyway.

"The only conclusion you can draw in political terms is that it makes you realise that your family is the thing that matters most. We don't always, as politicians, give effect to that.

"The other thing we all concluded from it was, because you can't choose your family, it is really from your family you are entitled to expect unconditional love and support and that's quite a good lesson to learn as a human being, I suppose, rather than a politician."

Charles assisted with Mr Maude's election campaign in 1992. He died a year later, aged 42.

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