When Layla Moran, who represents Oxford West and Abingdon for the Lib Dems, announced last week that she is in a relationship with a woman, and now identifies as pansexual, many press accounts did not even hint at the threats and bullying that lay behind her decision to come out publicly. But now we know.
Layla Moran MP
While ITV News told “Layla Moran said it was ‘surprising’ for her when she started a relationship with a woman but said her sexuality was not about ‘physical attributions of the person you fall in love with, it’s about the person themselves’ … It differs from bisexuality, where people are attracted to more than one gender, because pansexuals describe not recognising gender as part of their attraction”, Pink News had the exclusive.
Ms Moran told the publication “About six months ago I started a relationship with a woman, and that was quite surprising, because before that I’d only ever had boyfriends. We met at work, which a lot of people do, and we just totally hit it off, started hanging out, and one day after a couple glasses of wine … It was really wonderful on the one hand, but also quite surprising for me in how I had identified before”. There was more.
“It wasn’t really something I had done before or considered before, but sometimes when you meet the right person, it just kind of happens. We’re in a really committed, loving, supportive, relationship, and I feel now is the time to talk about it, because as an MP I spend a lot of my time defending our community and talking about our community. I want people to know I am part of our community as well”. But why now?
Press campaigners Hacked Off know why. “Ms Moran has described how several reporters have been asking questions, door-knocking neighbours and even offering payment to a former partner seeking information about her personal life over the last few months. Ms Moran writes that the Mail on Sunday threatened to publish details relating to her sexuality last Saturday, and that she herself only decided to reveal her sexuality publicly last week because she feared the newspaper would go on to publish”.
And as they were scooped, the MoS published a mean-spirited and spiteful hatchet job, under the by-line of political editor Glen Owen. The headline tells readers what to think: “Lib Dem would-be-leader Layla Moran is accused by mothers of 'weaponising' her sexuality to 'look woke' after she came out as pansexual”. Er, “Accused by mothers”?
The MoS attack explains it. “Ms Moran, 37, has been mocked on social-media platforms for combining her self-outing with details of her six-month relationship with Rosy Cobb, the Lib Dems’ former head of media … Users of Mumsnet have been vitriolic about Ms Moran, with one accusing her of ‘cheaply weaponising’ her fluid sexuality to ‘look woke’”.
All that the MoS was left with was to trawl Mumsnet. As Nathan Sparkes of Hacked Off emphasised, “Newspapers have no business revealing an individual’s sexuality against their will, far less a politician who has devoted much of her career to date to furthering the cause of LGBT+ rights and equality … The decision of the Mail on Sunday … to publish an article attacking Ms Moran based on a handful of abusive tweets on a social media site speaks to the vindictiveness and cruelty of parts of our unregulated press”.
Our free and fearless press’ attitude to sexuality stinks. And that has to change.
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