A Conservative cabinet minister has come out as gay, a decision he described as “one of the most important of my life”.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell wrote on his personal website that it was time to “acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am”.
The 53-year-old MP said he hoped that coming out would not change anything about how he was treated.
Mr Mundell is MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.
He is believed to be the first openly-gay Conservative cabinet minister.
A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister was “very pleased” by Mr Mundell’s “very personal statement” and that it was “very encouraging to see”.
Mr Mundell, who has three grown-up children, wrote in his online post: “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 as gay in 2016, I just want to get on with it, and now, just like that, I have said it.”
‘Doubts and fears’
Mr Mundell, who is Scotland’s only Tory MP, said that he had viewed the prospect of coming out as being “harder than standing for election, speaking in the House of Commons or being cross-examined on television”.
The MP said he “still cannot rationalise such feelings”, but said they were “not uncommon, particularly in men of my age”.
Mr Mundell added: “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.”
He said he could not have had more love and support from his family and friends, adding: “I don’t know what the wider reaction will be, but I know it’s the right thing for me to do”.
Mr Mundell’s announcement brings the number of openly-gay MPs in the House of Commons to 33 – the highest proportion of any parliament in the world, according to a study by US academics – and means there are as many on the Tory as the Labour benches (13).
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is also openly gay, tweeted that she was “really proud of my friend David”.
She added: “I know that David didn’t make today’s statement lightly, but approached it in his typically thoughtful and positive manner.
“He has my wholehearted support, as well as the support of the wider Scottish Conservative family.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Good on you, David. Well done & best wishes.”
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Having high profile people across all areas of society, from politics to sport, is crucial to creating inclusive environments and helping ensure the fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people at work, at home and in their communities.
“Role models like David Mundell also inspire young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people by letting them know they are not alone and that they too can feel proud of their identity.”