Politics

Two government LGBT advisers quit over 'hostile environment' and lack of action


Two of the government’s LGBT advisers have resigned their posts as they issued sharp criticism of equalities ministers Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch.

First to quit on Wednesday was Jayne Ozanne, a member of the LGBT+ advisory panel, who accused ministers of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people and claimed Truss and Badenoch were “ignorant” on key issues.

Then the Government Equalities Office confirmed that James Morton, who has been a manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance, had handed in his resignation from the same panel.

Morton said he had been “very concerned for several months that Liz Truss and her junior ministers are not committed to LGBT equality”, the BBC reported. “It doesn’t appear that they’re doing anything useful or helpful for trans people, in terms of government policy,” he added.

Ozanne claimed she had sat in meetings with Truss and Badenoch and “been astonished about how ignorant they are”.

She said that while Boris Johnson was “a friend of the LGBT community”, she felt the need to quit so she could criticise government proposals on banning “conversion therapy” because the plans “do not have the confidence of the LGBT community” nor “many senior religious leaders”.

It follows frustration by MPs from across the political divide at the government’s delay in bringing forward legislation to outlaw conversion practices.

Tory backbencher Gary Sambrook complained in a Commons debate earlier this week: “I want to send a message to the government that it has been three years since this promise to ban conversion therapy. We have got to get on with it and make sure that we deliver on it.”

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Badenoch reassured him and other colleagues “we are committed to ending conversion therapy in the UK and we take the issue very seriously”.

But speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, Ozanne said: “I do not believe this Tory government, sadly, have the best wishes of the LGBT community at heart.

“Instead we seem to have a Trump-esque mode of operation where they’re listening to the rightwing evangelicals and those frankly who want to take us back,” she added.

Ozanne also said Truss and Badenoch are “known among the community as the ‘ministers for inequality’” because they do not “understand LGBT people, particularly transgender people”.

“There are many who fear that we are going back to the days of Thatcher, the days of section 28,” she continued.

“The language that I hear from them is of us being woke, or of being loud lobby groups, and what they don’t seem to understand is the reason we have to shout is because we are hurting, because there are people who are vulnerable who are going unheard and unnoticed.”

Labour accused the government of having “prevaricated” on banning conversion practices “for far too long” and claimed it revealed “a pattern of behaviour which seeks to dismiss the real impact of the discrimination experienced by so many”.

The shadow equalities secretary, Marsha de Cordova, said: “The government must get on with setting out a clear plan now which will see an end to this inhumane practice that has no place in modern Britain.”

A government spokesperson said: “We have repeatedly made clear that we will take action to end conversion therapy and we are working to bring forward plans to do so shortly.”

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