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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006, 10:16 GMT
Council leader announces he's gay
Steven Purcell
Steven Purcell became council leader last year
The leader of Glasgow City Council has announced he is gay and has separated from his wife of more than five years.

Councillor Steven Purcell said he felt the need to come out following increasingly distracting rumours about his private life.

It is understood the 34-year-old's estranged wife Katrina, who is a health worker, will continue to support him as a friend.

Mr Purcell was elected leader of the city council in May last year.

Glasgow's Lord Provost, Liz Cameron, said as a friend of the couple she would continue to support them both during what was a sad time.

She said Glasgow was an open, modern city an inclusive city.

Yoker resident, Mr Purcell, became a Glasgow councillor in May 1995 for the ward of Blairdardie.

It did not come as a shock to me to find out that Steven was gay
Katrina Purcell
Wife of Glasgow Council leader

In a statement on Saturday he said: "Over the past couple of weeks the rumours surrounding my marriage have increasingly become a distraction to me. I wish to set out in public the facts surrounding the issue.

"For the last year my marriage has been in trouble and some months ago my wife and I separated.

"One of the issues we have been facing up to is the fact that I have realised I am gay.

"Over the last two to three weeks I have been telling close family, friends and colleagues.

'Very sad'

"Now that they are aware of the situation, and that Katrina and I are clear they understand the issues, I want to dispel the rumours and get on with the job I am privileged to do as leader of the city council."

Mrs Purcell released a statement saying it had been a difficult time for herself and her husband.

She said: "I am naturally very sad that we have had to announce our separation.

"It did not come as a shock to me to find out that Steven was gay and I now intend to offer him continued friendship and support, and otherwise to get on with my own busy life."

The couple do not have any children.

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