POLITICS
10/03/2021 18:28 GMT | Updated 11/03/2021 07:20 GMT

Two Government Advisers Quit Over ‘Hostile Environment’ For LGBT+ People

Jayne Ozanne and James Morton have resigned over the government's failure to ban “conversion therapy”, branding Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch “ministers for inequality”.

Two of the government’s LGBT+ advisers have resigned, accusing Boris Johnson’s administration of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people.

Jayne Ozanne, who sits on the government’s LGBT+ advisory panel, was the first to quit on Wednesday, citing concerns the government is backing out of a promise to ban “conversion therapy” – a range of harmful practices that attempt to reverse someone’s sexual orientation and/or their gender identity.

In an interview with ITV, Ozanne said: “I’ve been increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration.

“Over the years which the advisory panel has met, we’ve seen an increasing lack of engagement and the actions of ministers have frankly been against our advice.”

Ozanne, a gay, evangelical Christian, also hit out at “ignorant” equalities ministers Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch, saying “they are known among the community as the ‘ministers for inequality’”.

“I don’t believe that they understand LGBT people, particularly trans people,” she said.

“I’ve sat in meetings and I’ve been astonished about how ignorant they are on issues that affect the real lives, particularly of younger people.”

The second to quit was James Morton, a member of the government’s LGBT+ advisory panel, who has been a manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance. 

Morton said he had been “very concerned for several months that Liz Truss and her junior ministers are not committed to LGBT equality”, the BBC reported.

“It doesn’t appear that they’re doing anything useful or helpful for trans people, in terms of government policy,” he added.

Badenoch sparked controversy in a debate on Monday after saying she wanted to “end” conversion therapy while repeatedly avoiding using the word “ban”.

UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch

Ozanne appealed to the prime minister to understand the government’s proposals, as they stand, do not have the confidence of the LGBT+ community.

The former adviser, who has also resigned as a member of the Conservative Party, said she fears the government is going backwards on LGBT+ equality.

“There are many who fear that we are going back to the days of [Margaret] Thatcher, the days of Section 28.

“The language that I hear from them is of us being woke, or of being loud lobby groups, and what they don’t seem to understand is the reason we have to shout is because we are hurting, because there are people who are vulnerable who are going unheard and unnoticed.

“I do not believe this Tory government, sadly, have the best wishes of the LGBT community at heart.

“Instead we seem to have a Trump-esque mode of operation where they’re listening to the right-wing evangelicals and those frankly who want to take us back.”

Responding, Labour’s shadow equalities minister Marsha de Cordova said: “This government have prevaricated over banning conversion therapy for far too long, despite their clear promise to do exactly that.

“This is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to dismiss the real impact of the discrimination experienced by so many and takes us back to the days of Thatcher.

“The government must get on with setting out a clear plan now which will see an end to this inhumane practice that has no place in modern Britain.”

A government spokesperson said: “The government is committed to building a country in which everyone, no matter their sexuality, race or religion, is free to live their lives as they choose.

“We have repeatedly made clear that we will take action to end conversion therapy and we are working to bring forward plans to do so shortly.”