Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch is under pressure to resign after three of the Government’s LGBT advisers quit their posts and issued damning criticism.
Jayne Ozanne resigned from the LGBT advisory panel on Wednesday and accused Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss and Ms Badenoch of vilifying the trans community.
She was followed by James Morton who had reportedly been “very concerned for several months” that Ms Truss and her junior ministers were “not committed to LGBT equality”.
Ellen Murray became the third person to quit the panel – writing on Twitter that she decided to leave “due to the Government’s persistent and worsening hostility towards our community in myriad areas”.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said Ms Badenoch had “lost the confidence” of the LGBT+ community and failed to deliver a Government promise to ban conversion therapy.
He told the PA news agency: “The Equalities Minister should resign. She has failed to deliver long-standing Government promises to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy and to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
“Her feeble response in parliament on Monday night on conversion therapy was the last straw. The overwhelming majority of MPs who spoke said it was time to outlaw this unethical, ineffective and harmful practice.
“But Kemi Badenoch offered only platitudes, with no concrete proposals, despite the Government promising to ban conversion therapy over two-and-a-half years ago.
“She claimed she was ‘consulting widely’ but none of the 20-plus organisations supporting a ban have been consulted. Kemi is rightly being dubbed the ‘minister for inequalities’ and should stand down. She has lost the confidence of the LGBT+ community.”
Ms Ozanne, who describes herself as a gay evangelical Christian, said that Government pledges to take action to end the controversial practice of conversion therapy only referred to sexuality and not gender identity.
“Sadly there has been never any mention of protecting our trans friends who are twice as likely to be offered and to be forced to go through conversion therapy,” she told Good Morning Britain.
“I fear it’s this Government’s attitude to the trans community that is right at the heart of this.
“They need to embrace the trans community and protect them rather than vilify them which, I’m afraid, both Liz Truss and Kemi (Badenoch) seem committed to doing.”
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, said she was “disappointed” the Government was “rowing back” on legislation to ban conversion therapy.
It came as a group of nearly 20 LGBT+ organisations wrote to Ms Badenoch to express their “deep concern” at her response to calls to ban conversion therapy.
Signatories to the letter – coordinated by Ms Ozanne and including campaigner Mr Tatchell and the organisation Stonewall – accused the minister of inaction after the Conservative Party’s pledge in 2018 to eradicate the controversial therapy.
They said they “fail to understand why – after nearly 1,000 days – coming forward with meaningful legislation is taking so much time”.
The signatories also wrote that they were “extremely troubled” after the minister made no mention during the debate of protection for trans people despite this group being “the most likely to be at risk”.
Downing Street said the Government has been “clear that conversion therapy is wrong and we are committed to ending these vile practices for good”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that the Government would continue to consider all legislative and non-legislative options.
A Government spokesman said: “Earlier this week the minister set out the Government’s desire to end conversion therapy, making it clear that the practice has no place in a civilised society.
“We are working to bring forward plans to do so shortly.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Government has a “blind spot” on LGBT+ issues, and said the Prime Minister “needs to address it”.
Sir Keir said he would “absolutely” ban conversion therapy by law, adding: “It’s abhorrent and we’re 100% against it.”
Ms Badenoch was criticised earlier this year for launching an online tirade against a journalist after the reporter sent a standard request for comment to a Government press office.
The minister published correspondence between the journalist and officials in launching the attack on Twitter, which led to an alert about the risk to media freedom being registered with the Council of Europe.