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‘It is more challenging to come out as a Catholic than as a lesbian,’ says head of Stonewall

Chief Executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt (PA)

The chief executive of the gay rights pressure group, Stonewall, has said it is more challenging to come out as a Catholic than as a lesbian.

In an interview with The Guardian, Ruth Hunt, who has led the pressure group for the past six months and attends Mass regularly, says she was “naïve” to think she wouldn’t face scrutiny for her faith.

She said: “It’s been harder for me to come out as a Catholic than it was to come out as a lesbian – easily. At least I had the backing of a community when I came out as a lesbian.”

Despite last year’s same-sex marriage legislation, the 35-year-old said that faith is still inhibiting gay people from exercising their rights.

She said that faith “is doing significant damage to people’s mental health – we have to do something about it.” She continued: “There are also many faith leaders who are gay and many faith leaders who are distressed by the constant exclusion of LGBT people from their communities and parishes.”

Miss Hunt went on to say that Pope Francis needs to make his position on gay rights clearer instead of oscillating “wildly between different positions.”

She continued: “I think there is more Stonewall can do, but then I don’t think Pope Francis is going to be tweeting me directly anytime soon for top tips on how to run the Vatican. Still … we’re happy to help them set up their LGBT network as soon as they say the word.”