John Nicolson was best known on TV as a presenter of BBC Breakfast and won plaudits for anchoring the corporation's breaking coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Now the Nationalist MP has spoken out about how came up against old fashioned attitudes in the BBC's corridors of power 15 years ago after he went public in a newspaper interview about his homosexuality.

And he believes the corporation's attitude to gays has changed little since openly camp stars such as Larry Grayson and John Inman were regarded as "waiting for the right woman to come along".

Mr Nicolson, who is among the SNP's newly-elected 56 MPs, said staff at the corporation were "aghast" when he told them he had been honest about his love life.

He was prompted to come out in 2000 after a newspaper wrongly claimed he had a long-term girlfriend. In the original interview, he said that he did not want people to think Dale Winton was the only role model for gay men.

Yesterday, in a political debate at Westminster, the East Dunbartonshire MP said he was informed no one in any field had been openly gay at the BBC when he came out.

He added the biographical notes of Generation Game star Grayson - famed for his catchphrase Shut That Door! - and John Inman - who played an effeminate character in the sitcom Are You Being Served? - stated they were still waiting to find love with a woman.

In a parliamentary debate on broadcasting, Mr Nicolson said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are still under-representated on our airwaves.

Mr Nicolson, who began a career in broadcasting after graduating from Glasgow University said: "When I came out as gay when I was presenting BBC Breakfast on BBC 1, which I did for a number of years, I found that I was the first mainstream TV news presenter to do so.

"When I told the press office staff that I had given an interview to the Daily Mail, and that when asked about my home life I had been honest, they were aghast and told me that no BBC presenter had ever been openly gay before.

"I said: 'Perhaps in news nobody has been openly gay before, but what about other fields?'

"They said that no one in any field had ever been openly gay. Larry Grayson and John Inman were, according to their BBC biographical notes, apparently just waiting for the right woman to come along.

"That was in the year 2000, and I am not sure that much has changed.

"Why does it matter? As (Labour's Chi Onwurah) rightly said, the faces and voices on TV, especially in news, should reflect the society in which we live. It is all about trust."

Mr Nicolson went on: "The BBC Trust in Scotland reports that less than half of the people in Scotland believe that the corporation represents their life.

"That is the lowest level of trust in the BBC of any of the nations in the United Kingdom, but it is no coincidence, given the number of TV programmes that are commissioned in Scotland and the jobs in Scotland."

The SNP's culture, media and sport spokesman also noted Scotland is maybe the "only country in the world" where no foreign news is run on the main 6 o'clock news programme.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, Mr Nicolson said: "There could be Armageddon in Carlisle and it would run an air-show in Carluke as the main news story.

"It is a most peculiar position and it is one reason why the SNP is keen on having a Scottish 6 o'clock news with proper news values - local, national, UK and international news chosen on the basis of merit, as happens on the radio."

Mr Nicolson later said a perceived lack of objectivity by the BBC during last September's independence referendum left many Scots feeling a "bit like disappointed lovers discovering the infidelity of someone we rather cared for".

He said this differed to the UK Government's view on the BBC, with many on the Conservative frontbench feeling a "post-divorce visceral hatred".