Boris Johnson stepped into a parallel universe yesterday as he highlighted his alleged support for *checks notes* LGBT+ equality.
The prime minister welcomed select members of the LGBT+ community whom he does not consider “tank-topped bum boys” to a champagne reception at Downing Street on Tuesday (29 June) to mark the end of Pride Month.
As a string quartet played in the background, Johnson celebrated “the extraordinary contribution of LGBT people to our country”, proudly extolling the principles of equality that his government has consistently undermined.
“I think that what we want for this country is for it to be a place where you can be what you want to be, and love whomsoever you want to love,” he began, a bold statement from someone who needs yet another public consultation to figure out whether they should ban conversion therapy.
Unfortunately it’s a vision recognised by no one from Johnson’s own LGBT Advisory Panel, who recently resigned en masse accusing the Conservatives of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people, in particular the trans community.
Continuing his fantasy, the prime minister harked back to his days as London mayor. “I have a very simple reason for thinking that’s the right thing, and it was born of long experience, really, from running one of the greatest cities in the world,” he said.
“If you want to have the most dynamic, thriving tech, scientific, academic, cultural, artistic sector in the world, if you want to attract the best and the brightest from around the world, then you should be progressive on these issues.”
Boris Johnson’s newfound discovery of the economic advantages that come from backing basic human rights will likely be news to anyone in his Home Office, who refuse LGBT-related asylum claims at a higher rate than the national average while subjecting queer people to derogatory stereotyping and a “culture of disbelief”.
It’ll also come as a shock to his Equalities Office, whose scrapping of long-promised reforms to the Gender Recognition Act have helped fuel a culture of transphobia so severe that one British trans woman was granted asylum in New Zealand.
None of that seemed to matter to Boris Johnson though, who really needs you to believe he loves the gays now. Honest.
“I want you to know that we’ve got your back here in this government, we’re determined to stick up for equalities,” he said. “We’re determined to stick up for LGBT people in any way we can” – except, of course, when your favourite authoritarian homophobe comes to visit.
Needless to say, the LGBT+ community were not impressed.