Boris Johnson’s judgement on conversion therapy has been clouded by “those with an agenda” against trans rights, Crispin Blunt has said.
The MP, who heads the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Global LGBT+ Rights, made his comments after the Conservative government decided to push ahead with a conversion therapy ban that excludes trans people.
That led to the Tories’ flagship global LGBT+ rights conference being cancelled.
As Johnson doubled down on his position, Blunt said: “It is of course disappointing that our prime minister has yet to fully appreciate the sensitivities and complexities around gender identity as well as sexuality.”
The MP continued: “His judgement and that of many of his parliamentary colleagues is also being clouded by those who have an agenda to push and those who have been captured by its seeming simplicities, even in the absence of much sustained evidence of harm from an inclusive and affirming approach around personal gender identity.”
Blunt, one of the UK’s most prominent gay MPs, went on to say that those who advocate for LGBT+ rights have had “a long time to think issues through” and that those who are part of a sexual minority often have “instinctive sympathy for those wrestling with their gender identity”.
Acknowledging that a small minority of the community “see the debate over gender as a thereat to our sexuality identity”, Blunt stressed that what should unite the community is that everyone deserves the right “to be ourselves in any free society worthy of the name”.
He added: “We have no choice but to work to sustain our personal freedoms, to continue to make the case that these freedoms are good for all, economically and socially, in our societies and help those who languish under discrimination and criminalisation win their freedom to the benefit of all.”
The prime minister has claimed that further work must be done before a ban on trans conversion therapy can be legislated – despite the government already undertaking years of work on an LGBT-inclusive ban.
Blunt said: “We hope the further work he has commissioned will address this. Much of it has already been done not least around conversion therapy and the consultation two years ago on reform of the Gender Recognition Act.”
The government has faced fierce backlash from LGBT+ rights groups and MPs ever since news broke last week that its much-discussed conversion therapy ban was set to be shelved.
Hours later, Downing Street did a sudden turnabout in the face of mounting backlash and decided to proceed with a ban – but only to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people on the basis of sexuality.
That led to more than 100 LGBT+ groups announcing that they would be boycotting the government’s Safe To Be Me conference. On Tuesday (5 April), the Equalities Office announced that the conference – which was reportedly already in strife – was being cancelled entirely.
Johnson has faced criticism from opposition MPs, but he’s also faced some backlash within his own party for refusing to ban conversion therapy for trans people.
Jamie Wallis, the Welsh MP who recently came out as trans, said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the government’s decision.
“It is wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as ‘abhorrent’,” Wallis said.
“If the CT [conversion therapy] ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise.”