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Queen Elizabeth II laid to rest

Longest serving British monarch died on Sept. 8

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Queen Elizabeth II's coffin draped in the Royal Standard during her funeral services at Westminster Abbey (Screenshot from live feed/press pool)

World leaders joined the British royal family and 2,000 other dignitaries for the hourlong state funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey Monday.

King Charles III, accompanied by Queen Consort Camilla, the Prince William with his wife Kate and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the king’s siblings, Princess Anne, Princes Andrew and Edward, the king’s younger son, Harry, their wives and the extended royal family escorted the coffin into the services and later attended the private interment at the royal vault at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the deceased monarch will rest alongside her husband, Prince Philip.

The king accompanied by Queen Consort Camilla is seen here with his sister Princess Anne during state funeral services for their mother Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey Sept. 19, 2022.
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

The state funeral was attended by numerous heads of state including the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Leaders of most Commonwealth countries attended, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese making the nearly 24-hour journey from the other side of the globe.

In addition to political and other dignitaries including other European royals attended along with Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun reported, citing Imperial Household Agency officials, that a Japanese emperor has only attended the funeral of a foreign head of state or royal family member on one previous occasion, when then-Emperor Akihito attended the funeral of Belgian King Baudouin in 1993.

Spain’s King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia were among the European royals who attended. Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I and former Queen Sofia were be present. The former king is the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a distant cousin of Elizabeth.

Reuters reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who remembered the queen as an “iconic leader” and “beacon of wisdom and principled leadership,” also attended.

The Nave of Westminster Abbey during state funeral services for Queen Elizabeth II
(Screenshot live feed/Press Pool)

Elizabeth oversaw a significant change in the role of the monarch and the U.K.’s place on the world stage in the 70 years she was on the throne. Reuters noted that the 40th sovereign in a line that traces its lineage back to 1066, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 and became Britain’s first post-imperial monarch.

She oversaw her nation trying to carve out a new place in the world, and she was instrumental in the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, now a grouping comprising 56 countries.

She guided her government over the administrations of 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill and ending with her asking Truss to form a government as prime minister only a couple of days before her death at Balmoral Castle, her summer home in the Scottish highlands.

Queen’s legacy on LGBTQ issues was complicated

In 1952, when she took the throne after the death of her father, King George VI, same-sex sexual relations were criminalized in U.K. The same laws were also brought to the Commonwealth countries that it colonized.

By the time she died, the landscape for LGBTQ rights looked dramatically different — at least in the U.K. — in part because she approved of many pro-LGBTQ measures, such as same-sex marriage. That support has led some to argue that she was a “quiet” supporter of LGBTQ rights, but to others she was just doing her job.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

Additional reporting by Michael K. Lavers, Reuters and AFP

Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral at London’s Westminster Abbey – LIVE (previously recorded):

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United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96

British monarch passed away in Scotland

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Queen Elizabeth II (public domain photo)

Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96.

Elizabeth assumed the British throne in 1952 after her father, King George VI, died.

Elizabeth, among other things, pardoned Alan Turing, an acclaimed World War II codebreaker and computer scientist who died by suicide two years after his 1952 conviction for “gross indecency.” 

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, which decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations among men in England and Wales who are at least 21.

Elizabeth gave royal assent to the marriage equality law that took effect in England and Wales in 2014. Elizabeth has also urged the U.K. to ban so-called conversion therapy.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office on Tuesday.

“We’re all devastated,” she said outside 10 Downing St. “Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built.”

British Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce, who has hosted a number of Pride Month receptions in D.C., in a statement said Elizabeth “devoted a lifetime of dedicated service to her country and was an inspiring role model for everyone across the globe.”

“Her legacy is one of charity and compassion,” said Pierce.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 said she “deeply” regrets colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations the U.K. introduced in Commonwealth countries.

Court rulings in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis in recent months struck down colonial-era sodomy laws. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month said his country would decriminalize consensual same-sex consensual relations.

Jamaica and Uganda are among the Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality remains criminalized. The Privy Council, a British appellate court, in recent years ruled against marriage rights for same-sex couples in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The two British territories fall under the Privy Council’s jurisdiction.

“We send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” said Stonewall, a British LGBTQ and intersex rights group, in a statement after Buckingham Palace announced Elizabeth’s death. “At this sad time we reflect on the the end of a very significant era for the U.K.”

Mermaids, a group that advocates on behalf of transgender and other gender non-conforming young people, echoed Stonewall.

We’re very sad to hear of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Mermaids. “Our thoughts are with King Charles III and all of the Royal Family at this deeply difficult time.”

“While its unfortunate to hear the family has lost a mother, as an LGBT citizen of the commonwealth, she represented institutions like the Privy Council that have reversed LGBT rights protections for Caribbean Countries and territories that still have the Privy Council,” Caleb Orozco, an LGBTQ and intersex activist from Belize, told the Washington Blade after Elizabeth died. “The death of a queen does not absolve its institutions from its responsibility to show its substantive commitment to LGBT rights in the Caribbean.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among the myriad world leaders who also mourned Elizabeth’s passing.

“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Trudeau. “She was a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”

“As we look back at her life and her reign that spanned so many decades, Canadians will always remember and cherish Her Majesty’s wisdom, compassion and warmth,” added Trudeau. “Our thoughts are with the members of the Royal Family during this most difficult time.”

Elizabeth is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. 

Her eldest son King Charles III, 73, is her heir. Elizabeth’s grandson Prince William is now second in line to the throne.

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New British prime minister urged to mend fences with LGBTQ community

Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson

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Liz Truss speaking to Parliament (Screenshot from YouTube/CBS Miami)

Conservative Party leadership announced Monday that Liz Truss was elected head of the party and will become the U.K”s new prime minister, replacing her fellow Tory, Boris Johnson, who announced his resignation this past July following a slew of scandals and resignations from his government.

In her acceptance speech the Tory leader pledged to “govern as a Conservative” by delivering a “bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy.” Truss will occupy 10 Downing St. as the U.K. grapples with looming cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and soaring energy bills. 

Britain’s LGBTQ advocacy groups greeted the news with mixed reactions ranging from Nancy Kelley, the chair of Stonewall saying “this is a time for leadership, and we hope that our new prime minister will stand up for a world in which all LGBTQ+ people can live our lives to the full.” 

However, the Stonewall chair also urged the incoming prime minster to “build bridges with the LGBTQ+ community” by delivering on her promises to ban conversion therapy in the U.K.

Other groups including Gendered Intelligence were alarmed by Truss being elevated to the post. Pink News UK reported that Truss takes office after a leadership race “marred by transphobia,” according to Cleo Madeleine, communications officer for Gendered Intelligence. 

Madeleine told Pink News UK that Truss as minister for women and equalities oversaw an office “that often worked to support trans people and she vocally committed to banning conversion therapy.”

Pink News also noted that Truss was reportedly blindsided by Johnson’s decision to press ahead with a transgender-exclusionary ban.

Madeleine said it’s time for Truss to “show that she can keep her promises by pressing ahead with the ban,” to put an end to “political point-scoring” and to address issues that matter, including the cost-of-living crisis, fuel poverty and climate change. 

“The government has an opportunity to stop the campaign of discrimination and hatred towards trans people that has led to international condemnation and skyrocketing hate crime. Let’s not waste it,” she added.

Trans Britons have been under siege for the past three years with transphobic attacks launched by various anti-trans special interest groups as well as court actions that has made trans healthcare difficult to receive in the U.K.

This past June transphobic policies were endorsed by Johnson.

During a break in-between sessions during the first summit meeting of the Commonwealth nations since the coronavirus pandemic in the Rwandan capital in June, Johnson was asked by a reporter about the FINA ban on trans women athletes.

The prime minster’s response was that there were “particular problems” around “issues of gender.”

Johnson told reporters, “Look it’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that. When it comes to, when you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems,” he said.

In a follow-up question the prime minster was also asked whether women can be born with a penis, he replied: “Not without being a man.”

Additionally there has been a sharp uptick in violence against the U.K.’s LGBTQ community.

This past January, a report released by Galop found that that 1 in 4 LGBTQ respondents to a sexual violence survey experienced sexual assault intended to convert or punish them for their identity.

Galop asked 935 LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault: “At any age, have you experienced sexual violence that you believed was intended to convert you to heterosexuality or your assigned gender at birth, or to punish you for your gender or sexual identity?,” and almost 1 in 4 (24 percent) reported back that they had.

While serving as the U.K. minister for women and equalities Truss did away with reforms to the Gender Recognition Act which critics charge has severely limited trans youth to be able to receive proper healthcare.

A spokesperson for trans youth group Mermaids told Pink News that the Tory government must urgently “reframe trans healthcare as a public health issue,” with the system in “dire need of funding, specialist resources and expertise.” 

It added the government cannot “pick and choose” which members of the LGBTQ community are protected by legislation banning conversion practices. 

“Trans people deserve the freedom to be ourselves as much as the next person,” the charity said. 

Other high priorities for the LGBTQ advocacy groups are ending new cases of HIV by the end of the decade and addressing the monkeypox outbreak of which there were as of Aug. 26, 3,389 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox in the U.K. 3,239 of those are in England itself.

Ceri Smith, the head of policy for the Terrence Higgins Trust, called on Truss to appoint a “monkeypox tsar” to oversee the “response and finally show the leadership in tackling the outbreak that the government response to date has been desperately lacking.”

Truss will travel to the Queen Elizabeth’s summer residence in Balmoral, Scotland, on Tuesday to be officially appointed prime minster by Her Majesty and asked to form a government.

Liz Truss selected as new U.K. prime minister:

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Boris Johnson to resign as British prime minister

Activists recently criticized ousted Conservative Party leader over transphobic comments

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Boris Johnson (Bigstock photo by shganti777)

Boris Johnson announced that it was time to step down as leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister Thursday after his government was left disabled by a wave of resignations of senior officials and Cabinet officers fed up with what many publicly referred to as his “lack of integrity.”

Standing outside Number 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the prime minster, on Thursday afternoon addressing reporters and others watching, Johnson said: “It is clearly now the will of the party that there should be a new leader. The process of choosing a new leader should begin now.”

The prime minister will step down as party leader today but hopes to stay as PM until fall to allow a leadership contest to be held and a successor appointed.

Johnson said the timetable for his departure and selection for the party’s new leader will be announced by a committee of senior Conservative MPs next Monday. A successor will likely be chosen by the end of August into early September.

“I have appointed a Cabinet to serve until a new leader in place,” the prime minister added, “I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019: Thank you for that incredible mandate, the biggest Tory majority since 1987.”

The BBC had reported that Johnson announced his plans to continue to serve as prime minister until the fall to allow a Tory leadership contest to take place in the summer, but many in his party including numerous Tory MPs called for him to resign immediately after more than 50 government ministers and aides quit his government as of Thursday morning.

The deputy chair of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs has joined colleagues calling for Johnson to be replaced as prime minister immediately.

Amid boos and an occasional cheer, a still pugnacious prime minister said it was his “duty and obligation” to stay on in his role. But he acknowledged that it was the time to step down.

Nus Ghani, an MP for Wealden, said Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab should take over from Johnson immediately on an interim basis.

The BBC said that Johnson came to the decision to step down after pressured by the fact his government was collapsing around him and he had lost nearly all support.

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former right-hand man turned nemesis, earlier urged Conservatives to remove him as prime minister Thursday tweeting a warning that if he is not removed there will be “carnage.” Cummings also noted that he supported the push to name Raab the interim prime minister.

Wednesday afternoon a former ally of the prime minister, openly gay Housing Minister Stuart Andrew, announced on Twitter that he had resigned.

“Our party, particularly our members and more importantly our great country, deserve better,” said Andrew. “Having a marginal seat I have seen the huge sacrifice our members make in volunteering considerable hours to campaign on our behalf and I cannot, in all good conscience, tolerate them having to defend the indefensible.”

Johnson survived multiple scandals including a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, multiple investigations and a fine from police for his involvement in a series of law-breaking coronavirus pandemic lockdown parties.

However it was his denial of knowledge of the sexual assault allegations brought against Chris Pincher, the Tamworth MP who Johnson had elevated to a primary political position in the Conservative Party as deputy chief whip that ended up being the catalyst setting motion the multiple demands for his resignation and the departure of the more than 50 government ministers and officials.

The denial from Downing Street regarding accusations of sexual misconduct against Pincher and still appointing him to a critical role was ultimately the proverbial final straw.

As late as Wednesday Johnson was still defiant telling the House of Commons in remarks in the chamber, “The job of a prime minister in difficult circumstances when he’s been handed a colossal mandate, is to keep going.”

PinkNewsUK notes that Johnson’s government had “promised a lot to the LGBTQ+ community.” This included a reformed Gender Recognition Act, a transgender-inclusive conversion therapy bill and a conference to celebrate the global LGBTQ community.

None of this happened. The government scrapped the GRA reforms, refused to protect trans people from its already-delayed conversion therapy ban and cancelled the “Safe to Be Me” conference after more than 100 LGBTQ groups pulled out in opposition to Johnson.

The prime minister also disparaged UK Trans athletes in answering a reporter’s question two weeks ago when he was asked about the FINA ban on trans women athletes.

The prime minster’s response was that there were “particular problems” around “issues of gender.”

Johnson told reporters, “Look it’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that. When it comes to, when you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems,” he said.

In a follow-up question the prime minster was also asked whether women can be born with a penis, he replied: “Not without being a man.”

“I think I’ve spoken of three concerns I’ve had in the past. They are to do with the age at which you can deem it competent to transition, the question of safe spaces for women, and the difficulties you have with sporting competitions,” Johnson continued.

“These are all very difficult problems and you have to be very sensitive. But these are the areas.”

Under the Johnson and Tory-led government Britain, which led in the ILGA-Europe’s ranking of the most LGBTQ-friendly nations in Europe in 2014, now stands at number 14.

Johnson resigns:

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