Conservative and homophobic Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that she is “minded” to legalise sales of poppers. This comes four years after the sale of the substance was banned by the government.
In a letter to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), Patel stated that the law on the stimulant, which is often used during anal sex, is currently “uncertain”, BBC News reports.
Possession of poppers is currently not illegal in the UK, but the sale of them was technically banned in 2016 as part of a ‘blanket ban’ on the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances – or ‘legal highs’.
Poppers – which is the slang term for amyl nitrate – are a chemical inhalant that produces a short-lived ‘high’, increases blood flow and relaxes muscles.
Inclusion of poppers in the Psychoactive Substances Act has been much disputed, with gay MP Crispim Blunt ‘coming out’ as a user of poppers in parliament, and declaring their inclusion in the legislation to be be “fantastically stupid”.
Despite the ban, poppers has remained widely used and sold across the UK in the years since the ban was inacted.
Now, Patel, who has served as Home Secretary since 2019 and consistently voted against marriage equality, has written to Professor Owen Bowden-Jones, chairman of the ACMD, to say that “the lawfulness of the supply of poppers is uncertain”.
She adds: “I am minded to remove this uncertainty by explicitly exempting poppers from the 2016 Act. I would seek the ACMD’s advice on an exemption.”
Maybe her actions serve as an indication that governments are becoming more mindful and accepting of LGBTQ people and culture, or maybe it’s only being considered for reasons that serve the conservative agenda in some way. We will have to watch what happens next!