Boris Johnson resigned after a major Tory rebellion
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGES VIA PEXELS/UK PARLIAMENT
The current political climate in the UK is interesting, to say the least. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has held the Conservative Party leadership and his tenure as PM since 2019, resigned after numerous senior members of the cabinet rebelled against him. In total, there were at least 38 resignations including former Health Secretary Sajid Javid and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Johnson plans to stay on as a caretaker Prime Minister until October, though it’s possible he may be forced out before then. So, which MPs are going forth in the leadership race and what are their respective voting records on LGBTQI rights?
Sunak was absent for the vote on legalising equal marriage in Northern Ireland but was not an MP when the UK Parliament voted on earlier significant milestones in LGBTQI equality. Prior to launching his campaign, he pledged that if appointed to the post, he would reverse “recent trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language.” In April 2022, Sunak expressed that trans people deserved “respect” but remarked that biology is “important” and “fundamental” when discussing both toilets and sports.
Liz Truss currently serves as Foreign Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, but notably has failed to build on Mordaunt’s vision and reform the Gender Recognition Act. In September 2020, Truss revealed that she would not introduce self-identification for trans people. The GRA is vastly outdated and largely relies on medical terminology, and this policy change would allow trans people to change their legal gender without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and without answering invasive questions about their identity, their body and their lives.
Notably, as Women and Equalities Minister she failed to introduce a universal ban on conversion therapy. The current legislation does not include trans and intersex people, and though challenged on it, she has remarked that the UK Government will only be legislating against sexuality-based “therapies” at this time. Despite hosting a public consultation on the GRA, reforms were abandoned. The LGBT Advisory Panel was further disbanded, marking another failure.
Truss has voted both for and against laws to promote equality and human rights, with three votes for, five votes against and six absences between 2011 and 2019. She has always voted in favour of LGBTQI rights, with seven votes for and zero against equal marriage between 2014 and 2019.
Who’s out of the race?
At her campaign launch, Mordaunt made an anti-trans remark in response to a question about the “war on woke.” “Well I think we should be talking about the cost of living, I think we should talk about healthcare. But let me deal with the issue that is floating in the background there. I think it was Margaret Thatcher that said that every Prime Minister needs a willy. A woman like me doesn’t have one.” She was later asked to define “what a woman is” by The Telegraph, stating “I am biologically a woman. If you have been in the Royal Navy and you have competed physically against men, you understand the biological difference between men and women”, she replied.
She voted in favour of equal marriage and has largely voted in favour of LGBTQI rights. From 2018 to 2019 she occupied the position of Equalities Minister, during which she oversaw the public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. She has publicly spoken about the influence her twin brother – who came out as gay in the 1980s – has wielded on her political viewpoints, expressing that he “inspired” her to “become an ally.” “I see a direct parallel between what he went through and what the trans community are going through today, which is why I think it is really important that we show our support at every opportunity”, she remarked in 2020. With this in mind, yesterday’s comments are hugely disappointing. Notably, her brother has stated that the Conservative Party is “pushing LGBTQI rights backwards.”
Serving as Junior Equalities Minister from 2020 until her resignation in July 2022, Kemi Badenoch met with the LGB Alliance, coordinating a meeting between the so-called “alliance” and UK Government officials. Notably, the LGB Alliance is transphobic and is currently in the process of suing Stonewall. She similarly defended former Sussex University professor Kathleen Stock who resigned after university students attacked her “gender critical views”, stating that Stock’s views were “probably in step with the majority of the population.”
She has voted against laws to promote equality and human rights, with zero votes for, one vote against and two absences between 2018 and 2019. She was absent for both the vote on equal marriage in Northern Ireland and on abortion in Northern Ireland.
Tugendhat voted in favour of legalising equal marriage and has, like Mordaunt, consistently voted in favour of LGBTQI rights. He voted in favour of legalising equal marriage in Northern Ireland in 2019 and in 2021 expressed his support for a ban on conversion therapy. He has also stated his support for LGBTQI people serving in the British Army, noting that politicians should “move on” from debates around trans lives.
In an interview with Sky News, he was asked whether he believes that trans women are women. His response: “A woman is an adult human female, but that doesn’t mean in any way that trans women have any less respect or any fewer rights. The idea that you can answer this question with a sledgehammer when really what you’re talking about is a very subtle understanding of people’s rights, people’s dignity, and the respect we need for each other, I’m afraid is not true.”
“We must never take away from human dignity, we must never deny the reality of what it is to be a biological woman, but we must also respect people who are in a different gender identity than their body may have afforded them”, he finalised.
In 2019, Suella Braverman voted against legalising equal marriage in Northern Ireland and has consistently voted against laws to promote equality and human rights, with seven votes against and zero for, notably voting not to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland.
Suella Braverman has made an array of anti-trans comments, notably stating in May that schools in England don’t legally have to accommodate trans students by addressing them with a new name, pronoun or allowing them to use a different uniform. “No good can come of any young person being forced to adopt a gender they feel miserable with. It certainly won’t improve their learning. Schools do all kinds of things to safeguard the welfare of young people that they are not bound to do by law…I am a believer in rules and following them, but I do think that not listening to young people and their parents on this quite particular and personal matter would risk damaging mental health”, Braverman remarked. She also stated that girls’ toilets and changing rooms had legal protections as “safe spaces” in the event that someone who was “born male” would want to use them.
She also remarked in an interview with The Times that teachers were encouraging students to be trans on account of their “unquestioning” stance, further stating to The Sunday Telegraph that gender dysphoria and thus trans identity is spreading by “social contagion” amongst young people in schools. She has similarly expressed that Westminster could block the Scottish Government’s forward-thinking plans to reform the GRA.
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