The BP chief’s resignation

04 May

The 170-word article in the Straits Times (2 May 2007) was headlined “BP chief quits over gay affair”. The opening sentence said he resigned “after a judge lifted a legal injunction preventing a newspaper from publishing details of his homosexual relationship.”

This is technically accurate but misleading, because it was silent over the real nub of the matter. Readers are likely to be led to think that the BP chief had to go when he failed at hiding his sexual orientation from the public. This in turn calls up subliminally a host of unquestioned associations: that homosexuality is a moral failing, therefore such persons are unfit for high office, hence it should be hidden, failing which one has to quit…

It was this public scolding that brought him down. For lying to a court. Not for being gay; not for having a lover…

That’s from Fall of the BP chief Part 1 in the May 2007 section of Yawning Bread. Do go on to Part 2.

…The seldom acknowledged fact is that despite avowing the creed of non-discrimination and judging people by merit, the business world fairly reeks of heterosexism — and male chauvinism too, as many a female executive can attest. Browne’s close friends and colleagues may have no issue with his gay side, but other business contacts would be another question.

“Homophobia may be withering in offices and on the shopfloor,” write Patrick Collinson of The Guardian, “but among Britain’s business elite the closet remains firmly shut. At the global oil majors, routinely negotiating deals in countries not known for their tolerance of homosexuality, being openly gay is simply not an option.”…

Alex Au has done such a good job analysing this affair. Do read it all.

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3 responses to “The BP chief’s resignation

  1. Oscarandre

    May 5, 2007 at 11:08 am

    This is a very interesting observation and one about which I’d not thought before. It is true that we think of the (Western) world being less homophobic than before but, certainly in my experience, very few (if any) high flying business executives acknowledge being gay. Does that mean that coming out is a career limiting option?

  2. ninglun

    May 5, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Yawning Bread’s perspective – and those posts are really well argued — is especially interesting coming from an openly gay man in Singapore.

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