The Prime Minister made some significant changes to his team in a Cabinet reshuffle on 13 November
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY DREAMSTIME.COM
On 13 November, Rishi Sunak made a number of surprising changes to his Cabinet in a bid to “strengthen” his team.
This reshuffle saw the sacking of divisive Suella Braverman, who became notorious for her anti-migrant, anti-trans, and anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric. Yesterday also saw the surprise reappointment of former-PM David Cameron as foreign secretary – something which no-one in the UK saw coming.
The Conservative Party has recently faced backlash for their anti-trans stance which was expressed vocally at their Conservative Party Conference, and there are growing concerns about the party’s commitment to LGBTQIA citizens after they failed to ban conversion “therapy” for the fifth year in a row.
So, what does this reshuffle mean for LGBTQIA rights in the UK?
David Cameron, foreign secretary
In a move which no one was expecting, David Cameron is back. The former Prime Minister was appointed as the new foreign secretary in Sunak’s reshuffle. Cameron has a long history of voting on LGBTQIA rights due to his time in 10 Downing Street. In 2004, he voted in favour of civil partnerships, and three years later he voted in favour of the Equality Act.
In his autobiography, For The Record, he commented on the importance of passing same-sex marriage during his time as PM. “Equal marriage was one of the most contentious, hard-fought and divisive issues during my time as prime minister,” he wrote.
“We would lose party members; one even came to my surgery and tore up their membership card in front of me. It was an issue that I would worry and even wobble over. But I have absolutely no regrets, and it is one of the things of which I’m proudest.”
James Cleverly, home secretary
The former foreign secretary James Cleverly has been appointed as the new home secretary, taking the role from Suella Braverman. While Cleverly has never officially voted on LGBTQIA rights, he came under fire during the 2022 Qatar World Cup when he told LGBTQIA fans to “respect the law” in Qatar.
In 2005, Cleverly also wrote a blog piece entitled “I like marriage” where he showed his support for same-sex marriage. “Gay ‘marriage’ takes nothing away from heterosexual marriage and while there will be some civil partnerships which are done for the wrong reasons the same can be said of straight marriage,” he wrote in this blog piece.
Steve Barclay, environment secretary
Taking over from Thérèse Coffey, the former health secretary Steve Barclay was appointed as environment secretary in Sunak’s reshuffle. Barclay made headlines earlier this year when he announced that he intended to ban trans people from single-sex wards.
The environment secretary voted in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013.
Victoria Atkins, health secretary
Taking over from Barclay, Victoria Atkins has also come under fire during her time in the Conservative Party for comments she made about trans people’s access to healthcare. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2018, she said: “The treatments are so serious and life-changing. I’m a little cautious of the use of those treatments because of the potential for the rest of their lives.”
“Lots of questions are rightly being asked about how we treat young people. People whose bodies perhaps haven’t developed yet,” she continued.
In 2019 Atkins voted in favour of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Richard Holden, Conservative Party chair
Richard Holden is fairly new to the Conservative Party and was elected as MP for North West Durham in 2019. He has no previous voting history on LGBTQIA rights.
Laura Trott, chief secretary to the treasury
Elected as the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks in 2019, Laura Trott is also a fairly new addition to the Conservative Party team. She hasn’t made any comments about LGBTQIA rights during her career, but in a letter she wrote for her constituency in 2019, she did cite that “Men and the LGBT community can also be victims” of domestic abuse when giving support helplines, which shows her acknowledgement of issues within the LGBTQIA community.
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