Updated: February 4, 2023
A British lawmaker has criticized the U.K.’s tabloid press, saying journalists threatened to reveal her same-sex relationship without her consent.
Layla Moran, a lawmaker from the Liberal Democrat party representing the constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon, announced she is pansexual and in a relationship with a woman in atweetposted on Jan. 2. (Moran’s partner, Rosy Cobb, is a former head of media for the Liberal Democrats. She left her position after a scandal in which she allegedly forged an email.)
Moran is believed to be the first openly pansexual lawmaker in the United Kingdom.
“Pansexuality, to me, means it doesn’t matter about the physical attributions of the person you fall in love with, it’s about the person themselves,” Moran toldPinkNews, a British LGBT publication. (“Being pansexual means being attracted to all gender identities,” as per aGLAADdefinition, “or attracted to people regardless of gender.”)
But she criticized a British tabloid newspaper for its role in events leading up to the announcement, and for essentially forcing her to come out.
“Although I am happy to have talked openly about my sexuality and had already told many friends and family, the timing of speaking publicly wasn’t on my own terms,” she wrote in anop-ed for theIndy 100news website on Monday.
Moran said that journalists from TheMail on Sundayhad been calling people close to her for months and “attempting to make [my] relationship salacious or sensational.”
The newspaper had agreed to hold its story revealing her same-sex relationship after Moran pleaded with them to let her tell her 92 year-old grandmother first, she alleged. “I pleaded with them to wait,” Moran wrote. “I couldn’t bear the idea she would see it before anything else.”
But Moran said she “believed they would publish” the story regardless, so she decided to tell the world, along with her grandmother, on her own terms. “[I] decided to take back the control that I feared would be stolen from me,” she wrote.
Moran also criticized theMail on Sundayfor afollow-up storypublished Sunday by the newspaper’s political editor, which prominently quoted anonymous users of an online forum criticizing her for “weaponizing” her sexuality to “look woke.”
“The story frames my actions, my telling of my story, as a calculated plan,” Moran wrote. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. While I am proud of who I am, it was the media who I felt intimidated me… It’s possible that to some journalists and readers this is a jolly jape where they get one over me, but to me, this is my life.”
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The newspaper said its journalists’ questions to Moran were for a story about whether her relationship with Cobb was a conflict of interest.
“TheMail on Sundayapproached Ms Moran last weekend with questions about whether her relationship with Ms Cobb represented a conflict of interest,” the paper stated in its Sunday article. “We agreed not to run a story after Ms Moran invoked her right to keep her sexuality private: she then announced it herself five days later.”
TheMail on Sundaydid not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.
Write toBilly Perrigo email@example.com.