Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch accused of creating 'hostile environment' as LGBT advisers resign

Liz Truss in the House of Commons

International trade secretary Liz Truss in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament Live

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

Jayne Ozanne accused Boris Johnson’s government of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people and criticised the two ministers as being “ignorant” on key issues.

The government's Equalities Office also confirmed that it had received the resignation from the LGBT advisory panel of James Morton, who has been a manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance.

Whitehall sources confirmed that Ellen Murray had also quit the panel – and is said to have accused the government of “hostility” towards LGBT people.

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.

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“It doesn’t appear that they’re doing anything useful or helpful for trans people, in terms of government policy,” he added.

Ozanne, who describes herself as a gay evangelical Christian, said Truss and Badenoch were known in the LGBT community as the “ministers for inequality”.

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“I’ve been increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration,” Ozanne told ITV.

“Over the years which the advisory panel has met, we’ve seen an increasing lack of engagement and the actions of ministers have, frankly, been against our advice.

“I don’t believe that they understand LGBT people, particularly trans people,” she said.

“I’ve sat in meetings and I’ve been astonished about how ignorant they are on issues that affect the real lives, particularly of younger people.”

She said the catalyst for her resignation was a debate in parliament on gay conversion therapy – and appealed to prime minister Boris Johnson to understand that the current proposals do not have the confidence of the LGBT community.

Ozanne, who has also resigned as a member of the Conservative Party, said she fears the government is going backwards on LGBT equality.

“There are many who fear that we are going back to the days of (Margaret) Thatcher, the days of Section 28.

“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.

“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 right-wing evangelicals and those, frankly, who want to take us back.”

The resignations came as a group of nearly 20 LGBT+ organisations have reportedly written to Badenoch to express their “deep concern” at her response to calls to ban conversion therapy.

Signatories to the letter – co-ordinated by Ozanne and including campaigner Peter Tatchell and the organisation Stonewall – accused the minister of inaction after the Conservative Party’s pledge in 2018 to eradicate the controversial therapy.

They said they “fail to understand why – after nearly 1,000 days – coming forward with meaningful legislation is taking so much time”.

The BBC reported that the signatories also wrote that they were “extremely troubled” after the minister made no mention during the debate of protection for trans people, despite this group being “the most likely to be at risk”.

A government spokesman said: “The government is committed to building a country in which everyone, no matter their sexuality, race or religion, is free to live their lives as they choose.

“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.”

Labour equalities spokeswoman Marsha de Cordova said: “This government have prevaricated over banning conversion therapy for far too long, despite their clear promise to do exactly that.

“This is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to dismiss the real impact of the discrimination experienced by so many and takes us back to the days of Thatcher.

“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.”

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