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Boris Johnson has an LGBT+ ‘blind spot’, says first openly gay MP

Patrick Kelleher February 24, 2021
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Boris Johnson. (Christopher Furlong/WPA Pool /Getty)

Lord Chris Smith, the UK’s first out gay MP, thinks Boris Johnson has a “blind spot” when it comes to LGBT+ people.

Chris Smith made history when he came out as gay in 1984, making him Britain’s first openly gay MP. He later served in Tony Blair’s cabinet.

While there are currently 55 openly queer MPs in parliament, none serve in Johnson’s cabinet.

“It would be very good to see someone who is openly lesbian or gay appointed to the cabinet at some point in the course of the next year or two,” Smith told BBC News in a discussion for LGBT+ History Month.

“At the moment, there seems to be a bit of a blind spot.”

When asked if he believes Boris Johnson is responsible for the lack of cabinet-level representation, Smith replied: “It’s the prime minister who chooses the cabinet. He ought to be looking wider across the range of talent that he has available to him.”

Smith noted that there have never been more lesbian, gay and queer MPs as there are right now – but that more needs to be done to get transgender people into public office.

He said trans people face a “glass ceiling” in politics.

“In terms of lesbians and gay men I think the glass ceiling in parliament has well and truly been broken,” he said.

“The glass ceiling in the cabinet has been broken by quite a number of us over the years. Sadly at present they seem to want to put it back in again.”

Boris Johnson is ‘committed’ to making government representative.

Justine Greening, who served as the first ever out lesbian cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government, told the BBC that those running the country should be “representative” of the people.

“I think that includes people from the LGBT community.”

She added: “I think it’s important to bear in mind that there are different groups of our society. I’ve never defined myself particularly by my sexuality but I also recognise that people’s identity does often give them a different sense of the issues.”

A UK government spokesperson said Boris Johnson “is immensely proud to live in a country that is one of the most progressive and liberal when it comes to LGBT equality”.

“The PM has committed to doing more to make sure the government fully represents the people it serves,” the spokesperson added.

 

Related topics: bisexual, Boris Johnson, Chris Smith, Gay, lesbian, LGBT, Politics, Trans

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