Ex-Culture Secretary tells anti-gay columnist: You’re a coward for staying hidden

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Former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has condemned a Devon newspaper columnist for describing homosexuality as an “aberration”.

The remarks were made in the South Molton News, by an anonymous columnist, known as ‘Grave Turner’.

In the column, he claimed that homosexuality is an “aberration”, and that it is “worth recalling” that it used to be criminalised.

He wrote: “’Gays’ are encouraged to ‘come out’, prominent people having already been ‘outed’ by the likes of the thoroughly odious Peter Tatchell, an alleged draft dodger from ‘down under’, now travelling under the ubiquitous human rights cloak covering anti-racism, and the outlawing of the so-called ‘homophobia’. School children – SCHOOL CHILDREN! – mark you, are encouraged to express their sexuality.”

Labour MP and former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said it was “cowardly” to publish such an offensive article anonymously.

The MP for Exeter told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s deeply depressing that some people still hold these views. And how cowardly to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Sir Nick Harvey – the Liberal Democrat MP whose constituency includes South Molton – yesterday condemned the columnist.

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “We can’t stop people from having these sorts of views, but they ought to be brave enough to put their name to it.”

Lib Dem St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert also added his voice to the criticism.

He said: “It’s people with views like his that make our communities less safe.”

The Editor of the South Molton News, Paul Henderson, defended the decision to publish the article – and to withhold the author’s identity.

He said: “It is common practice for local, regional and national papers to run columnist under a ‘non de plume’.

“The writer is of advancing years and is extremely well educated, has been known to me for close to twenty years and is not from this area.”

Mr Henderson added: “I’d like to assure you I personally do not share Grave Turner’s views in this particular article.”