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UK

Government disbands LGBT Advisory Panel after members quit over Tory ‘hostile environment’

Maggie Baska April 13, 2021
Liz Truss

Minister for women and equalities Liz Truss, Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, arrives on Downing Street for a cabinet meeting in London, England on 20 October 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The UK government’s LGBT Advisory Panel has been disbanded following three members quitting last month over Tory failings.

The panel was set up as part of the LGBT Action Plan – established under former prime minister Theresa May – to advise the government and ministers on “issues and policies concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.

But three ministers quit last month over claims there is a “hostile environment for LGBT+ people” among the Tory administration. The resignations came on the back of claims that the government was “dragging its feet” on a pledge to ban the harmful, torturous practice of conversion therapy.

The BBC reported that the LGBT Advisory Panel, which originally had 12 members, had been “due to end” their terms at the end of March. According to the BBC, the remaining members on the panel were willing to continue carrying out their duties beyond March, but the members were not clear if the panel still existed.

But the government has now decided to disband the advisory panel. A government equality hub spokesman said: “The LGBT Advisory Panel was created under the previous administration, and the term of all panel members ended on 31 March.”

The spokesman told the BBC that a replacement for the LGBT Advisory Panel “will be set out in due course”.

In a letter seen by the BBC, equalities minister Liz Truss said: “I will also be shortly making an announcement concerning the International LGBT Conference and convening a new body that will take international LGBT rights forward.”

Leading trans charity Mermaids called the news ‘concerning’, in a statement on Twitter, saying: “A government determined to support and empower LGBTQ+ people does not disband its LGBT advisory panel. This is very concerning indeed.”

Gay evangelical Jayne Ozanne was the first member to resign from her position on the government’s LGBT Advisory Panel on 10 March. Ozanne claimed there was a “hostile environment for LGBT+ people among this administration”.

She criticised under-secretary of state for equalities Kemi Badenoch for her “vague” speech during an 8 March debate on conversion therapy. Badenoch did not give a timeline on when legislation on conversion therapy would be advanced and repeatedly refused to use the word “ban”.

Just a day after Ozanne resigned, James Morton and Ellen Murray also quit the panel. Morton penned a damning resignation letter to secretary of state Priti Patel, expressing his concerns over how the Conservatives are handling trans rights in the UK. He said he had “no confidence” that the UK government wanted to protect the rights of LGBT+ people in the UK.

He said: “The lack of engagement that you, minister Badenoch and the Government Equalities Office civil servants have had with us as a panel, coupled with the rhetoric used in ministerial statements, leaves me with no confidence that the UK government wishes to protect the existing quality of life and human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people”.

Morton concluded: “The UK government does not seem, through words or actions, to have any desire to build a country in which trans people are among those free to live their lives.”

 

More: conversion therapy, Jayne Ozanne, Kemi Badenoch, liz truss

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