David Mundell, the secretary of state for Scotland, has won praise after coming out as gay, making him the first ever out gay Conservative cabinet minister.
The 53-year-old Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale made the announcement on his website on Wednesday afternoon.
"New Year, new start! I have already set out my political priorities for the year and now I am setting out my personal one. Having taken one of the most important decisions of my life and resolved to come out publically as gay in 2016, I just want to get on with it, and now, just like that, I have said it. How can it be both so easy and so hard to say a few short words?" he said.
New Year New Start! I have today posted an important message on my website https://t.co/DWEOY2dw3P— David Mundell (@DavidMundellDCT) January 13, 2016
In his statement he said: "In the end, it took just a couple of taps on a keyboard, yet at some points, in my mind, it was going to be harder than standing for election, speaking in the House of Commons or being cross-examined on television. I still cannot fully rationalise such feelings, but I know they are not uncommon, particularly in men of my age.
"Of course, everybody who gets to this point, has had their own journey. I have certainly been on mine - conflicting emotions, of doubts and fears, but ultimately positive and uplifting, with an unstoppable direction of travel. Over time, I came to understand that, for me, the only way to be truly happy on a personal level is to acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am.
"I so admire the many people, young and old, who are doing this every day, uncertain of the reaction. I have been very fortunate and couldn’t have had more love and support from my family and friends. However, making this public is something I have had to do myself. I don’t know what the wider reaction will be, but I know it’s the right thing for me to do.
"Other than the intensely personal and positive difference it makes to me, and the way I can live my life, my hope is that my coming out doesn’t change anything else about how I go about my work or how people treat me. Gender and sexuality should make no difference whether you are a Cabinet Minister or in any other walk of life and I hope that I can, in my own way, reinforce that message. "
I admire my dad as much today as I did yesterday. Brave decision to go public and the right one. https://t.co/LYoYl5Zvce— Oliver Mundell (@olivermundell) January 13, 2016
A spokesperson for David Cameron said the prime minister was "very pleased" and "delighted" that Mundell was in "a position to take this step".
Conservative small business minister Anna Soubry used an appearance in the Commons to offer "fulsome" praise for her cabinet colleague.
"Not only is he he outstanding as a secretary of state for Scotland, but today he made a very imprint announcement. In many ways should be his private life, but it's not, it's in the public domain. It took huge courage I can say I am hugely proud to sit in the cabinet with him," she told MPs.
"I can see all the nods on both sides, all around the chamber, in support of our secretary of state, at what might be a difficult time for many. But I’m sure for him it's a very happy day, that finally, he can be the person, the man he always been."
Soubry added about people being gay: "In this day and age I think most people shrug their shoulders and say 'yeah whatever' and 'am I bothered?'."
Mundell's announcement makes him one of the most senior out gay Conservative politicians in the country. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives is also gay.
Angela Eagle, shadow first secretary of state and shadow business secretary, is the most senior out gay Labour politician.
Mundell, who has three children, has represented his constituency in Westminster since 2005. At the 2015 general election he was the only Tory MP elected in Scotland.
Politicians from across different parties congratulated Mundell on his announcement.
I know that David didn’t make today’s statement lightly, but approached it in his typically thoughtful and positive manner. 1/2— Ruth Davidson MSP (@RuthDavidsonMSP) January 13, 2016
He has my wholehearted support, as well as the support of the wider Scottish Conservative family. 2/2— Ruth Davidson MSP (@RuthDavidsonMSP) January 13, 2016
Thanks @NicolaSturgeon it's much appreciated. I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the love and support across the political divide— David Mundell (@DavidMundellDCT) January 13, 2016
@DavidMundellDCT I don't often retweet Con MPs David but that is a strong, moving and as you say - important message. You have my support— Ken Macintosh (@KenMacintoshMSP) January 13, 2016
Britain has more gay MPs than any other parliament in the world. With Mundell's announcement there are now 34 out gay MPs. In the last parliament there were 26 out gay MPs.
Analysis by the New Statesman found that the Conservative Party put up more out gay candidates at the election than any other party - 39 men and three women.