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Consultant anaesthetist Margaret Owen kept her sexuality hidden from her colleagues for around eight years. But when she had a civil partnership with her partner Vicky Gunn in December last year she made the decision to tell the staff she worked with.

Margaret, who works at Glasgow's Southern General and Victoria hospitals, said: "I came out to my family and friends when I was about 40, but did not come out to my work colleagues at the same time. I just had mixed feelings about it and was perhaps a bit fearful, although I didn't ever experience any overt homophobia.

"When I was growing up homophobia was a lot more common, perhaps not bullying, but a bit of mockery, not taking people as seriously.

"I was probably a bit afraid that I wouldn't be taken as seriously or people might not trust me in the same way or I might lose a bit of respect. I suppose as a doctor I felt those things were quite important. Also perhaps in a bit of a childlike way I thought people might not like me as much, to be honest."

Margaret said she did not view it as keeping a "terrible secret", but found it lonely not being able to talk about her life with her partner.

She decided to tell her colleagues on her last day of work before taking time off for her civil partnership, as she didn't want them to be put in a "difficult position" of thinking they would need to mark the occasion.

"But when I came back off that few days' leave, they'd had a whip-round and got us some really generous presents and a card which everyone had signed," she said. "I felt a bit foolish really to have doubted everyone would just be decent and kind. I thought I probably should have done this years ago.

"People need to do that when they feel ready to and when they feel safe, but it was definitely the right thing for me to do."