Belfast Telegraph

My double life as I tried to hide fact I was gay man, by NI-born diplomat

By Staff Reporter

A high-flying Northern Ireland-born British envoy has revealed how he had to keep his homosexuality a secret when he began his diplomatic career 30 years ago.

Brian Davidson (53), from Holywood, is the UK's Ambassador to Thailand.

In 2014, while serving at the British Embassy in Beijing, Mr Davidson married his partner, Chinese-American Scott Chang, in a ceremony that sparked a social media frenzy in the Communist country after Mr Davidson posted a photograph on Sina Weibo, its equivalent of Twitter.

Same-sex marriages are not allowed by Beijing, with many seeing such unions as alien to Chinese culture.

More than 20 million people saw the photograph.

The couple now have a son, Eliot, born to a surrogate mother.

Mr Davidson - a Cambridge law graduate - joined the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1985, just three years after homosexuality was decriminalised in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to US news magazine Newsweek, Mr Davidson told how, when he began his diplomatic career, the FCO still considered homosexuality a sackable offence - despite it having been decriminalised in the UK in 1967.

"I came from a conservative part of the UK, and I was just coming to terms with my sexuality," he explained.

"I was living a double life, worrying what people might think and discover about me.

"I look back now and think how much more effective in my work (I would have been) if I could have been more honest and open with others.

"When the rules changed and I came out, the response was overwhelmingly very positive.

"The FCO now is an extremely open organisation that recognises that inclusion and diversity are not just the 'right thing', they also allow people to realise their full potential."

Mr Davidson became envoy to Thailand last year, and has been an advocate of equal rights in the country - which, like China and Northern Ireland, does not recognise same sex-marriages - since his posting.

But he said that he and his husband had been welcomed in Thailand.

"Our reception in Bangkok, by the Thai Government and people, and in the diplomatic community, has been very positive and open," he said.

"Even here in Thailand there can be a lot of stereotyping about LGBT people and a lack of role models."

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