British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advisor on LGBTQ issues on Sunday issued a lengthy statement in response to the boycott of the government’s Safe to Be Me Conference that prompted its cancellation.
Nick Herbert, a member of the British House of Lords, in his statement described the conference’s cancellation as “damaging to the government and to the U.K.’s global reputation.” Herbert added it is “also an act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby.”
The conference was to have taken place in London from June 29-July 1.
The British government cancelled it last week after more than 100 British LGBTQ rights groups announced they would boycott it in response to Johnson’s decision to exclude transgender people from a conversion therapy ban. LGBT Business Champion Iain Anderson on Tuesday resigned over the issue.
Here is Herbert’s entire statement.
The Safe To Be Me equality conference was to be a global first, bringing governments, businesses, parliamentarians, faith leaders and activists together to discuss how to advance LGBT rights across the world. Our focus was on ending violence, advancing decriminalization in the 71 jurisdictions where homosexual conduct is still a crime, ensuring access to HIV/AIDS treatments, and building the economic case for inclusion.
We had remarkable speakers lined up and exciting plans for a new public-private fund to support LGBT groups in countries where they need our help. There was enthusiasm from governments and organizations planning to attend, often indicating they would bring new announcements or commitments to progress LGBT rights. We aimed to drive real action globally, and one major government had already indicated that they would hold a successor event to take agreed initiatives forward.
The conference’s cancellation is damaging to the government and to the U.K.’s global reputation. But it is also an act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby. Having orchestrated the boycott which brought the event down, Stonewall now claims to be “truly sad that the government does not feel in a position to run the UK’s first global LGBT+ conference,” adding that this shows a lack of concern for equal rights. Crocodile tears will be of little consolation to brave human rights defenders in countries where the right to wave a rainbow flag without being arrested is a distant dream.
LGBT groups were understandably dismayed, as was I, when a promised conversion therapy ban was suddenly dropped and then only partially reinstated just hours later. The bill will no longer extend to trans people, reflecting concern that more time is needed to ensure that legitimate therapies to help young people with gender dysphoria are not inadvertently criminalized. I believe such concerns can be allayed. Helping people come to terms with who they are is not the same as setting out to take them in one direction or the other — that is not therapy, it is ideology, and it can do irreparable harm.
It is quite possible that Parliament will decide to include trans people in the new law, as many other countries have done, for instance in Canada, where Conservative MPs unanimously supported the fast-tracking of a ban. But we must address the concerns and make the case for change, deploying the evidence and reassuring parliamentarians that a ban which include trans people is a safe and justifiable course to take.
Some of those who have raised their voices in Parliament about trans rights are reactionaries who opposed reforms such as equal marriage. But others are not. They are decent, middle-of-the-road politicians who supported gay rights but have genuine concerns that gender ideology may have gone too far, and that women’s rights and children must be protected.
Opinion research tells us that the public is sympathetic to trans people, and wishes to be kind, but has concerns about certain issues such as the safety of women in single sex spaces and especially the fairness of trans women competing in elite women’s sports. Our laws already allow for sensible balances to be struck to meet these concerns: Exemptions to the Equality Act allow single sex spaces to be protected, trans women prisoners to be placed in special wings, and sports bodies to set rules which may exclude trans competitors. Calm explanation of the facts and discussion on the right boundaries of these compromises is needed.
But social media, the rise of identity politics and the bitter polarization of every issue does not lend itself to rational discussion. When the prime minister expresses concerns, in reasonable terms, about issues such as fairness in sport, he is not being “transphobic”, as Stonewall immediately branded him. Nor is he alone, and growing disquiet across the political spectrum cannot sensibly be swept aside.
In the days when it was winning, the LGBT lobby made a compelling case for change, engaging successive governments and briefing parliamentarians. Now it is organizing boycotts and shouty protests. A fortnight ago in Manchester, a protester held up a trans flag with the words “some women have penises.” It is hard to imagine a surer way to lose a public argument. For days afterwards, politicians struggled to say whether they agreed, or could define what a woman is. A sensitive, complex debate is being reduced to ugly, dehumanizing talk about body parts.
Some may tell the government that this is a political opportunity for a wedge issue, but this would be deeply unwise. It is one thing to make an issue of statue-toppling and historical revisionism, another to appear to be attacking minorities and vulnerable people. It is also a misreading of public opinion. People want to hear solutions: they don’t see these issues through an ideological lens.
We must not allow a descent into a political mire which is dominated by extremes and which suffocates the reasonable middle ground. Across the Atlantic, this debate has become toxic, with hideous and persecutory anti-trans laws being passed by state legislatures. That is not who we are. We have to find a way to take the heat out of this debate.
I believe we now need a Royal Commission to examine these issues dispassionately. Its members would have to be truly neutral for such an inquiry to work: It could be led by a senior judge. It would need to be set up with cross-party support and without predetermination of its direction or outcome. Weighing the evidence on contested areas such as sport, safe spaces for women, and gender identity services for children and young people — building on the work of the independent Cass review — would be a better way to detoxify the debate, protect trans people from being caught in the political crossfire, and find the common ground we need.
No one will win from a culture war on these issues, and those most harmed will be trans people who already feel stigmatized, people who are different yet just like us, human beings who deserve greater kindness than today’s politics will permit.
British prime minister panned as ‘disgrace’ in response to Pride message
Government cancelled conference after rights groups announced boycott
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video message on his official Twitter and YouTube platforms celebrating Pride Month in the U.K. Tuesday under the social hashtag of #WhyPridematters.
The prime minister said that he was “proud” at how many LGBTQ and intersex people have sought asylum in the U.K. from Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country. However, within literal minutes he was promptly criticized and in the Twitter pushback was told by one user: “You’re an absolute disgrace.”
Another chimed in saying his remarks were hollow.
Johnson’s Tory-led government seemingly has been more indifferent to Britain’s LGBTQ and intersex community — transgender people in particular — according to activists and the largest LGBTQ and intersex advocacy group, Stonewall UK.
Last Spring, in early April, Bloomberg reported more than 80 organizations pulled out of the British government’s international LGBTQ and intersex conference due to be held in June after Johnson dropped a plan to ban so-called conversion therapy for trans people.
One of Johnson’s top ministers, Liz Truss, was accused of using LGBTQ and intersex rights to ‘rile up her right-wing support base’ PinkNewsUK reported.
As minister for women and equalities, Truss scrapped much-needed reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) despite reams of evidence showing there was strong public support for changes that would make accessing legal gender recognition easier for the trans community.
She has also been criticized for her appointments to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and her defenses of “gender critical” views.
There has also been outcry by LGBTQ and intersex advocacy groups and activists over the government’s willingness to deport LGBTQ and intersex and other asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. That decision has been criticized by queer and trans advocates as “hugely concerning” and “potentially life-threatening.”
Canadian LGBTQ and intersex news outlet Xtra reported that queer and trans asylum seekers in the U.K. already face inhospitable conditions. Sebastian Rocca, founder of charity Micro Rainbow, which provides safe housing to LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K., tells Xtra in a statement: “One of the most common reasons for the Home Office to refuse asylum to LGBTQI+ people in the U.K. is because they do not believe they are LGBTQI+,” adding that the policy has “potentially life-threatening consequences.”
The “single young men” framing of the policy means any gay or bisexual men, transmasculine people or transfeminine people — including those seeking asylum in the U.K. for their sexual orientation or gender identity — could potentially be deported to a country with a long history of human rights violations.
In Tuesday’s message the prime minister referred specifically to Afghan LGBTQ and intersex people fleeing the notoriously intolerant Taliban which regained control of the country after the Biden administration pulled the remaining armed forces out of the war-torn country last summer after nearly 21 years of conflict.
“LGBT Afghans coming to this country because we’re a place that is welcoming and understands that type of intolerance is simply unacceptable in this country,” Johnson said.
Johnson added: “I’m proud above all that the U.K. is a country where you can be however you want to be and you can love whomever you choose to love no matter who you are or where you come from or what your background is.
“So it’s great to see Afghans coming to this country with that knowledge and seeing our country as a beacon of hope.
“That’s why Pride Month matters so much. And I hope you have a great Pride.”
Twitter was less than impressed:
Boris Johnson said gay people are ‘tank top bum boys’ and compared equal marriage to three men marrying a dog.— George Aylett (@GeorgeAylett) June 21, 2022
The Tory government have also deported LGBT+ people to countries where LGBT+ people are criminalised and more Tory MPs voted against same sex marriage than for it. https://t.co/cqgNBjCI87
Hollow words from a Government who are still content with deporting LGBT+ refugees to Rwanda despite their own report stating that LGBT+ people “regularly” face “arbitrary arrest and detention by state security forces without due process.” #ToriesOut https://t.co/0qB0U9irIQ— Chris Davis 🇺🇦 (@Chris_Davis1998) June 21, 2022
You’re an absolute disgrace. https://t.co/pBWcti3UbX— Richard 🌈🏳️🌈 (@RJFirth) June 21, 2022
Why Pride matters | Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
London mayor criticizes city’s police for ‘systemic’ homophobia
Former Met Commissioner Cressida Dick resigned in February
Appearing on a Sunday morning talk show on the BBC, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the public was “losing trust and confidence” in the Metropolitan Police force. Khan harshly condemned the current environment which had led to the departure of former Met Commissioner Cressida Dick.
PinkNewsUK had reported in April that Dick had stepped down from the post in February after a damning report from England’s police watchdog exposed a troubling pattern of homophobia and bullying within the Met.
The report also detailed how homophobic, racist, misogynist and violent comments made by officers were dismissed as “laddish banter.”
She said she initially had “no intention” of stepping down after the scandal despite the fact she had been placed “on notice” by Khan. But Dick changed her mind and admitted in a statement that Khan’s skepticism in her ability to lead the force left her “no choice” but to resign early.
Speaking to the BBC, the mayor noted:
“It’s possible to recognize the dedicated, decent, brave officers we have in the police service but to also say we’ve got real problems — real problems that have been shown recently in relation to evidence of overt systemic sexism, racism, homophobia, discrimination, misogyny — which need to be addressed.”
He added that it was important that the new commissioner — who will be appointed by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel — takes steps to “address those challenges.” He believed the new commissioner would also need to “win back the trust and confidence of too many Londoners that has been lost.”
“One of the reasons why I lost confidence in the previous commissioner was my lack of confidence in her plans to address the two big issues — addressing the systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny, but also the trust and confidence required from our public when you police by consent,” Khan said.
Deputy Commissioner Stephen House has been temporarily serving as acting commissioner as the recruitment process continues, PinkNewsUK reported.
According to the Guardian, the process has been whittled down to the final two candidates: Mark Rowley, a former head of counter-terrorism, or Nick Ephgrave, currently part of Met’s top leadership.
Britain’s Royal Mint marks 50 years of ‘Pride UK’ with first LGBTQ+ coin
This is first ever UK coin dedicated to Britain’s LGBTQ+ community, with color printing technology capturing the spirit of Pride UK
The Royal Mint this week revealed a commemorative 50p (50 pence) coin celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pride UK. This coin marks the first time Britain’s LGBTQ+ community has been celebrated on official UK coinage, and forms part of The Royal Mint’s wider commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The coin has been designed by Dominique Holmes, an east London artist, writer, and LGBTQ+ activist with a varied artistic background that includes tattoo artistry. The coin design features Pride in London’s values of Protest, Visibility, Unity, and Equality in rainbows. With state-of-the-art color printing technology, the iconic colors of the Pride progression flag are recreated with special-edition color versions of the silver and BU coins.
Since the first official Pride UK event in 1972, the Pride UK movement has been one of significant political and cultural importance. Now in its 50th year, Pride UK is more popular than ever and continues to fight against societal oppression and stand up for rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
“As part of the launch, The Royal Mint will make a financial contribution to London LGBT Community Pride. The 50p will not enter circulation but will be available to purchase via The Royal Mint website this summer.”
Asad Shaykh, Director of Marketing and Communications at Pride in London said, “It was a privilege to visit The Royal Mint as part of our partnership and see our coin being made.
“It humbles me greatly that the words that I coined for the brand, PROTEST, VISIBILITY, UNITY & EQUALITY – will be on an actual coin, opposite the Queen. This queer brown immigrant has come a long way, powered by hope, love and this city. Nowhere in the world had this been possible, except the UK. Pride in London feels very proud today.”
Clare Maclennan, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint said, “The 50th Anniversary of Pride UK is a milestone celebration, and it is a privilege to mark 50 years of progress with this 50p coin. This is the first ever UK coin dedicated to Britain’s LGBTQ+ community, with color printing technology capturing the spirit of Pride UK with its iconic rainbow colors.
“It was an honour to host representatives from Pride in London at The Royal Mint recently to strike their own coins as part of the launch and discuss with them our commitment to diversity and inclusion within the business and show how we are reinventing for the future.”
As part of the launch, The Royal Mint will make a financial contribution to London LGBT Community Pride. The 50p will not enter circulation but will be available to purchase via The Royal Mint website this summer. The range includes gold, silver, and brilliant uncirculated versions.
The launch of the new LGBTQ+ coin forms part of The Royal Mint’s wider commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion. Alongside D&I training for all employees, a network of D&I Champions has been established to support The Royal Mint’s wider vision of celebrating differences for an inclusive future.
This commitment also extends to an LGBTQ+ society for employees at The Royal Mint; established last year. Named ‘Enfys’, the Welsh word for Rainbow, the group has hosted Q+A sessions, shared their personal stories and encouraged visibility and allyship amongst employees.
It is the first time the LGBTQ+ community has been celebrated on an official UK coin. https://t.co/15at8tIwRM— BBC London (@BBCLondonNews) May 18, 2022
To find out more information about the 50th Anniversary of Pride 50p and to register for updates please visit The Royal Mint website.
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