Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg hits out at LGBT+ campaigners for ‘shutting down debate’ on trans issues
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit out at LGBT+ campaigners for “shutting down debate” on trans issues.
The Tory MP spoke out after criticism was levelled at Minister for Women Victoria Atkins, who expressed concerns on Monday after she “read in the paper” that young transgender people were being “rushed into” treatment.
Campaigners pointed out that far from “rushing into” medical interventions, young trans people often face a years-long wait for any treatment whatsoever – and criticised the minister for appearing to speak out based on inaccurate newspaper coverage rather than expert advice.
But the hard right of the Conservative Party has leapt to Atkins’ defence.
Backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has long been rumoured as a potential right-wing leadership challenger to Theresa May, claimed that debate on the issue was being “shut down.”
He told the Telegraph: “It is unfortunate that others have responded to her comments so aggressively in the hope that they can shut down debate.
“The point of free speech is that people have to be allowed to say things that you do not agree with.”
Tim Loughton MP, who like Rees-Mogg has consistently opposed LGBT rights reforms, added: “My concern is that those who have a political agenda seem to want to sacrifice the welfare of children on the altar of political correctness and equalities whereas every child needs to be respected and supported in their own right.
“This is about individuals, not other people’s agendas.”
It is unclear how the debate on transgender issues is being “shut down”, given the persistent prominence of anti-transgender voices in the media over the past year.
Decision making on the issue has also been fully transparent. There is currently a government consultation on reforms to gender recognition laws open to the public, while Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee previously took public submissions for an inquiry on transgender rights.
Fox Fisher of All About Trans said in a statement to the Guardian: “The women’s minister’s concerns need to be put into perspective and she needs to look into the actual reality of treatment given to trans people, and she needs to consult with trans organisations and people that work on the ground.
“It is damaging to imply that trans teens are being given treatment lightly, as behind it are decades of research and best practice. Trans people’s lives are at stake here, and we know what we need.”
Rees-Mogg recently claimed it was “bigotry” to want political leaders to support same-sex marriage.
The candidate has previously said that he chooses to be “whipped” by the Catholic Church rather than by his party on the issue, consistently opposing LGBT+ rights against the wishes of the Conservative leadership.
But in an interview with the BBC’s Daily Politics in May, he grew angry when the subject was raised.
When asked whether an opponent of equal marriage could be Prime Minister, he said: “Do you believe in religious tolerance? Why do you pick on this view of the Catholic Church?
“Why do you pick on the views on the Catholic Church and suggest you can’t hold these in politics?”
He added: “You’re saying that tolerance only goes so far, and you shouldn’t be tolerant of the teaching of the Catholic Church. Isn’t this stretching into religious bigotry?”
The Conservative Party’s LGBT group, the LGBT+ Conservatives, previously branded Rees-Mogg a “disgrace” and shared a message that said “Retweet if you’re against Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister in any circumstances”.
PinkNews revealed in 2015 that Rees-Mogg criticised then-Prime Minister David Cameron during a Conservative conference call, accusing him of “alienating” people over same-sex marriage.
During the call, Rees-Mogg fielded questions from a number of activists.
A caller had said: “I know the gay marriage issue has been settled, but I think David Cameron would do well not to keep rubbing it in how pleased he was to have got that through onto the statute books.”
British Conservative politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)Jacob Rees-Mogg told the caller: “On gay marriage I agree with you, I’m not proud that this government passed that into law and it alienated a lot of our traditional supporters. So I think the least said soonest mended.”