Boris Johnson could be our next PM - here's what he’s said and done about LGBT rights

Britain's Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson gestures during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham, England, Saturday June 22, 2019. The two finalists in the race to lead Britain’s governing Conservative Party and become the country’s new prime minister made their first formal pitches to party members Saturday.  (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
What's Boris's record when it comes to LGBT rights? (Picture: AP/Rui Vieira)

He has pledged to champion LGBT+ issues if he becomes Prime Minister.

But Boris Johnson’s record when it comes to such issues isn’t exactly glowing.

From comments about ‘tank-topped bumboys’ to criticism of equal opportunities relating to gay people, the former Foreign Secretary is no stranger to controversy when it comes to LGBT+ issues.

Yet Johnson’s voting record also shows him as someone willing to defy his own party line to back LGBT rights.

Here, Yahoo News UK looks at the potential PM’s attitude towards LGBT+ issues based on what he’s said and done in the past.

Boris Johnson leads Pride London 2008, the country's largest gay and lesbian carnival
Boris leads Pride in London in 2008 (Picture: PA)

The things he’s said in the past

Johnson’s less-than-politically-correct comments are well documented.

As revealed by Business Insider, in a 1998 column for the Telegraph Johnson said Peter Mandelson’s resignation from the Labour government would lead to the blubbing of "tank-topped bumboys" in "the Ministry of Sound" nightclub.

In a separate Telegraph column he also expressed his shock at efforts to improve equality at the BBC.

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“In my hand was a magazine from something called the BBC Resources Equal Opportunities Unit,” he wrote. “There were letters from gays asking about their ‘partner's’ right to a BBC pension.”

In the piece, he suggested the move “must be a spoof”.

LONDON - JULY 05:  London Mayor Boris Johnson wears a pink stetson hat at the Gay Pride parade on July 5, 2008 in London, England. The parade consists of celebrities, floats, and performers celebrating the UK's largest gay and lesbian festival.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Boris dons a pink stetson hat at the London Pride parade in 2008. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Writing in the Spectator in 2000, Johnson launched an attack on homosexuality, referring to: “Labour's appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools, and all the rest of it.”

And in his 2001 book "Friends, Voters, Countrymen," the former journalist wrote: “If gay marriage was OK - and I was uncertain on the issue - then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog.”

In 2013, he had to apologise after making a joke about gay men taking their husbands ‘up the Arcelor’ - referring to the observation tower at the Olympic Park in Stratford, London.

He also defended Spectator columnist Toby Young over tweets that included describing a bar as full of “hardcore dykes” and another describing a gay celebrity as “queer as a coot”.

His voting record on LGBT+ issues

His words may paint a picture of someone who is less than supportive of the LGBT+ community, but Johnson’s voting record doesn’t necessarily tell the same story.

The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip has a generally pro-LGBT voting record, even going against his own party on occasions.

In 2003, Johnson voted in favour of abolishing a ban on the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools and the following year he voted in yes on the Civil Partnership Bill.

A participant holds rainbow flag at the annual Pride Parade In Hong Kong, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Thousands of supporters and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community in Hong Kong gathered on Saturday to participate in the annual Pride Parade. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
As Foreign Secretary, Johnson scrapped a ban connected to the Pride flag (Picture: AP/Kin Cheung)

Johnson also backed gay marriage publicly, lending his support while attending Pride in London in 2010. He went on to back the ‘Out4Marriage’ campaign for the government to legalise gay marriage.

As Foreign Secretary, he scrapped a ban on Pride flags being flown from UK embassies and consulates around the world.

However, he also came under fire in 2018 for giving the green light to a law in the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda that imposed a fresh ban on same-sex marriage, despite calls for him to try to block it on human rights grounds.

A court later ruled that the law was a violation of human rights.

What has he promised on LGBT issues if he becomes PM?

Johnson has reportedly pledged to champion LGBT+ issues if he becomes Prime Minister.

PinkNews reported that he had said in a statement to the LGBT+ Conservatives group: “I will continue to champion LGBT+ equality, get tough on hate crime and ensure that we break down barriers to a fairer society.”

He is said to have outlined priorities as doing more to ensure trans rights are protected and making sure in healthcare and business that nobody is discriminated against for their sexuality or gender.

He added: “We have already made so much progress as a Conservative government in championing equality and LGBT+ rights, but we must continue to still reform our society step by step, bringing people together while celebrating how we are all different.”