Schools minister and Conservative party MP Nick Gibb and his partner are planning to marry after being in a secret 29-year relationship, according to media reports.
Gibb, who is MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, revealed that he has been in a relationship with Michael Simmonds, the chief executive of polling organisation Populus, and plan to marry in November.
The 54-year-old MP told The Times they had kept their relationship secret until he came out to his family last week.
For nearly three decades, they avoided going to parties as a couple, never attended family dinners together and spent every Christmas apart.
In the interview, he also praised David Cameron’s ‘marvellous service’ to the country by championing gay marriage.
Gibb himself voted in support of the government’s same-sex marriage legislation in 2013.
He said that they had felt comfortable about keeping their relationship secret because they met and fell in love in the mid 1980s which he described to be a ‘different era’ than now.
‘We met in a different era so you are in a way locked into that and we were comfortable with it.
‘It was harder then. [Homosexuality] was only made legal in 1967. There was discrimination in industry and the professions,’ said Gibb who worked as a chartered accountant until his election to parliament in 1997.
Gibb, who is also Minister of State at the Department for Education, said he had arranged for his brother to inform his 79-year-old mother beforehand.
‘I wanted to give her a chance to process the information so she didn’t say something she might regret,’ he told the Times.
Gibb had dinner with his mother on the night before the Queen’s speech last week.
‘I think my mother was initially shocked – that’s an age thing – but then very supportive and what she wants is for me to be happy,’ he said. ‘We are close, so to her being a loving family is more important than anything else.’
‘It was easier to have a relationship that wasn’t known about. It didn’t really bother us, we both had successful careers. We just got on with life.’
He said they were always determined to wait until the law changed to allow them to marry and in part because they are worried about practical considerations.
‘If one of us was ill and had to go to hospital it would be awful if we couldn’t be there for each other,’ he said.
Gibb also praised David Cameron for introducing equal marriage.
‘Marriage has only been possible recently. We were never in favour of civil partnerships because we felt there should be the same approach for us and other couples. We both felt strongly we would wait until marriage became legal,’ he said.