Britain’s global reputation as a leading light on LGBT+ rights is fading
With mounting calls for legislation to ban conversion therapy, the government must take decisive action and show they care about LGBT+ people before they turn their backs on this party and this government.
It is almost 1000 days since the government pledged to “end” conversion therapy. The most recent ‘LGBT Action Plan: Annual Progress Report’ was delivered almost two years ago, back in 2019, by the minister for women and equalities’ predecessor, Penny Mordaunt.
It should come as no surprise, that a particularly tone deaf response to Monday’s debate on conversion therapy by Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch then prompted three members (so far) of the government’s ministerial LGBT Advisory Panel to resign, accusing the ministers responsible for equalities of creating a hostile environment for LGBT+ people.
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent lesbian Christian campaigner and the first to tender her resignation, stated that they were known in the LGBT community as the “Ministers for Inequality” because they did not understand LGBT+ people, particularly transgender people.
I fail to see how any minority group can be served by ministers who do not engage in good faith and consult with the communities that their policies impact
We should not be losing passionate activists like Jayne from the Conservative Party. I fear that these resignations are further signs of the eroding trust between LGBT people and the Conservative Party.
Of particular concern to me were comments by James Morton, the second member of the panel to resign. He asserted that the Panel was not able to serve the very function it was created for, being consulted only after decisions were made, rather than drawing upon the diversity of expertise within the panel.
I fail to see how any minority group can be served by ministers who do not engage in good faith, and consult with the communities that their policies impact. Such as survivors of so-called conversion therapy, which as yet, neither minister appears to have done.
As co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition with Argentina, the UK should be leading the charge to improve the lives of all lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people, not dragging its feet. The ERC’s mission is to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons and promote inclusive development in both member and non-member countries.
It is becoming increasingly absurd that despite leading this coalition of 42 member states, our inaction on the domestic level is not only harming LGBT+ people in the UK, but also risks empowering those around the world who want to curtail the rights of LGBT+ people.
On trans and intersex issues in particular, the UK’s comparison with our ERC co-chair Argentina is stark. Before their co-chairship, Argentina had already taken a much more progressive approach to the legal recognition of trans people, and since becoming co-chair has introduced a trans quota for civil service jobs, ensuring employment opportunities for trans people. In 2020, a Bill was introduced to ban all medically unnecessary interventions on sex characteristics that are not consented by the concerned individual.
Lack of clear progress domestically creates a lack of trust in the UK's leadership from other countries, potentially leading to mistrust in multilateral mechanisms, and slowing progress across the globe.
We stand at a turning point. The government is losing the support of inspiring leaders who feel shut out and rejected. Our global reputation as a leading light on LGBT+ rights is fading. But with mounting calls for an effective ban on conversion therapy, the government still has a chance to show that they care enough about LGBT+ people to protect us from harm.
The question is - will they take the powerful and decisive action needed to turn things around? Or will further delays and diluted promises see LGBT+ people turn their backs on this party and this government?
Crispin Blunt is the Conservative MP for Reigate and chair of the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.