Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt hits out at transphobic media coverage
The Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt has criticised the British media’s handling of trans issues.
LGBT groups and MPs have raised concerns with newspaper bosses about a surge in alarmist and often-inaccurate coverage of transgender issues that has become dominant across much of the British media in the past year.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband recently warned about a “moral panic” on transgender issues in the British press after months of negative stories and columns relating to transgender people.
Labour’s Sandy Martin raised the issue during Women and Equalities questions in Parliament on Thursday (May 17).
Martin said: “On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, what message is her department going to give to the British media, that discrimination against trans people is unacceptable?”
Mordaunt responded: “I would be very happy to send that message from this despatch box today.
“It is absolutely critical, as we consult and discuss sensitive issues, that it is done in a climate of respect, empathy and understanding.
“Anything that runs counter to that must cease.”
She also addressed delays to the consultation on gender recognition reforms for trans people.
The newly-appointed minister insisted plans would go ahead, adding: “The Government Equalities Office will publish a consultation on the Gender Recognition Act shortly.
“Our National LGBT Survey received over 100,000 responses and we are using these results to shape the questions in the consultation.”
Labour’s shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler challenged Mordaunt over the apparent instability of the Women and Equalities brief, which has been through three Secretaries of State in six months.
Maria Miller, the Chair of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, suggested at a PinkNews event earlier this week that the delays to the Gender Recognition Act changes were partly caused by the successive departures of Justine Greening and Amber Rudd from the equalities brief.
Mordaunt responded: “I do think we need to stabilise the work of the Government Equalities Office, and I think we need to increase what we’re doing on the equalities agenda across government.
“We have done some tremendous things in recent years and we need to build on that if we’re going to address equality.”
She hinted: “Since I have taken this post I have given this a lot of thought and I will be making some announcements in the coming weeks.”
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Speaking at a reception jointly hosted by PinkNews and Stonewall on May 15, Miller had said: “In terms of why has the government not yet published the consultation, I would also say why have they not addressed some of the 33 recommendations that were in the report that we issued three years ago.
“This is continuing to be put into that box marked ‘too difficult’.”
Miller added: “Why has it not been done? I think having three Secretaries of State in such a short period of time is unfortunate, and Minister for Women and Equalities has become the fastest-changing Cabinet post of all Cabinet posts.
“I think that has probably caused a lot of the delay.”
Mordaunt recently faced pressure from LGBT rights activists over reform to the Gender Recognition Act, stating that by stalling the reform, the government was “enabling abuse.”
A total of 34 pro-LGBT organisations and individuals including representatives from Amnesty International, Mermaids and Stonewall signed an open letter to Mordaunt, explaining the importance of promptly reforming the Gender Recognition Act.