A gay member of parliament has defended the usage of poppers in UK parliament as they can be used for treating the bites of adders.
Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, has said there is little to no empirical medical evidence that alkyl nitrates should be made illegal due to safety.
It comes as British politicians are holding a final debate on a bill that will make poppers illegal in the UK.
If the bid fails, selling poppers or even giving them for free to friends will be illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail, from 1 April.
Freer said he had received an email from a gentleman, Mr Joyce, in Croy, Inverness that said poppers have a medicinal effect.
‘Alkyl nitrites are carried and used when the need arises for adder bites. Apparently the use of poppers is shared by many people who work in the countryside as a first line of treatment if one is bitten by an adder,’ the email sent to Freer said.
‘A substantial number of people are bitten each year in Britain and the bite is rarely fatal. Whether that’s because the bite is not fatal to normal healthy humans or whether the treatment of alkyl treatment or one of the other anti-venoms is immediately used is up for debate.’
Freer said this ‘does show there is a conflict to what is a view that is held and what limited information is out there in the public domain.’
He called on the House of Commons to understand proportionality and to not start banning things on one or two incidents, and that it must be a significant risk to a significant number of people.
Despite this, Freer said he would be supporting the bill because he wants exemptions based on medical, empirical evidence.
Alkyl nitrites are used by an estimated one-third of gay and bi men, mostly to enhance sex. While possessing alkyl nitrites will not be illegal, bringing them into the country will be. And if you pass a bottle to a lover during sex, you will be treated like a drug dealer under the new law.
The government is likely to win the vote, which will also ban other ‘legal highs’. There is a list of things that are officially exempt under the law – including alcohol, tobacco, nicotine and even nutmeg.
The bill is expected to clear both its report stage and third reading in Parliament today and become law.