A DEPUTY minister has described how she suffered from homophobic bullying for four-and-a-half years while in secondary school.

Hannah Blythyn - who is openly lesbian - was one of  spoke out as she answered questions from Senedd Members to mark anti-bullying week, which urges people to make a noise about bullying “from the playground to parliament”.

Ms Blythyn, who attended St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School in Flint, North Wales, told the Senedd: “I thought then it was because I was different.

“I think that children had recognised something in me that I had yet to recognise in myself and I think if you reflected on it now, we would call it what it was: homophobic bullying.

“It went on for four-and-a-half years and it only stopped when I decided I’d had enough, because I’d heard the group were going to put itching powder in my clothes after PE and I just couldn't bear the thought of that humiliation.

“So, that was the point when one of my friends made me go and tell a teacher so that we could stop it. It took me a long time to build my self-belief back after that happened."

Asked by Labour colleague Jayne Bryant about work to tackle bullying, the deputy minister told the Senedd: “We can't underestimate the impact that anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, or any form of bullying for that matter, can have on young people in their lives.”

She said the Welsh Government is working closely with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to make new bilingual resources available to help prevent bullying.

Adam Price called for Wales to become part of the International Lesbian and Gay Association's (ILGA) Rainbow Europe index.

The former Plaid Cymru leader - who is gay - said it would measure progress against the Welsh Government’s aim of being an LGBT-friendly country.

Ms Blythyn said ministers are already in contact with the ILGA to explore how best to highlight progress in Wales.

She raised concerns about the UK falling from the number one-ranked LGBT-friendly country in Europe to 17th out of 49 countries.