The Home Office has today published a bill banning a number of ‘legal highs’ such as laughing gas, poppers, and so on. There is a big debate about whether this sort of legislation is worth it, and so on, but one particular substance may cause a rather different row. ‘Poppers’, which can apparently be bought at petrol stations, are alkyl nitrates which give users a head rush when inhaled.
But poppers have another use, which is to enable or enhance sex, particularly for gay men. The political implications of banning this substance may not have been immediately realised by those working on the ban, but it may suggest to some gay voters that the Tories still don’t really understand them, at a time when the party is still trying to build better relations with LGBT voters.
Stonewall have given a rather cautious response, saying ‘if there is evidence that the use of poppers leads to safer sex among gay men, then it would be concerning if they were to be made unlawful’.
A Whitehall source insisted that there has been a long established process for deciding which legal highs should be banned, saying:
‘It’s no secret that poppers are harmful substances that are totally unregulated and there’s a reason we are legislating to deal with them.’
Given we now have the gayest Parliament in the world, it will be interesting to see whether any MPs seek to amend the legislation, or whether poppers disappear from the legislation at some point.