COMING out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can be a tough experience for some people. It can also be a wonderful moment when an individual feels they no longer need to conceal aspects of their life from friends and family. 

It is undoubtedly a very personal decision and no one should ever feel under pressure to talk about their sexuality, whether they are gay, straight or whatever. 

Significant progress has been made in recent years to create a society in which LGBT lives are accepted as part of mainstream culture. Having MPs, clergy men and women, TV and film stars open about their being LGBT has helped break down barriers and destroy misconceptions, but discrimination still lingers and it would be misleading to say that coming out is easy for everyone. High profile figures continue to play a crucial role in giving people the confidence to be more open about their sexual orientation. 

Loading article content

Rumours about the sexuality of Kevin Spacey have abounded for years but he declined to discuss the matter in public. Fair enough, his private life is his own concern. 

As part of the outpouring of revelations and accusations sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal Mr Spacey this week apologised after being accused of making a sexual advance toward a child actor several years ago. The star used his statement to also reveal he was now living as a gay man.

We believe this was a mistake. If he did sexually assault a child then he has a lot to feel sorry for, and criminal charges could follow. But being gay is nothing to apologise about, nor should it ever be confused with paedophilia. By conflating the two issues Mr Spacey risks fuelling the myth that gay and bisexual men pose a threat to children.

Instead of empowering people who might have been considering coming out he has handed bigots an opportunity to spread a lie.