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Kemi Badenoch allegedly criticised LGBTQ rights while undermining same sex marriages and describing trans women as “men” in a leaked recording.
The audio, secured by VICE World News’s Ben Hunte, was reportedly recorded in 2018 just a year after Badenoch was elected as a Tory MP and the yet before she became a minister.
The outlet did not share the clip, but VICE claims Badenoch said in the audio: “It’s no longer about minority rights in terms of race any more or nationality.
“It’s now, you know like, it’s not even about sexuality now, it’s now like the whole transgender movement, where, OK, well we’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?
“Even when, you know, so, people hear about you know like the whole bathroom thing, it’s actually more of an American thing but they have a similar problem that, right so now it’s not just about being free to marry who you want, you now want to have men using women’s bathrooms.”
Presumably Badenoch is referring to the discussion of introducing gender neutral toilets in some venues.
The term transsexual is considered offensive to trans people, while misgendering someone could be seen to go against UK equality laws.
An employment tribunal in 2019 declared that “it may be unlawful harassment” to call a trans woman a man.
The MP for Saffron Walden also appeared to ridicule gay marriage in her alleged rant. Same sex marriage actually came into being in the Marriage Act 2013, a landmark piece of legislation spearheaded by previous equalities ministers.
LGBTQ activists and allies have spoken out
LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall tweeted: “We’re shocked to hear of the comments attributed to the minister, which are both hurtful and harmful to LBGTQ+ communities.”
The deputy chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT+ Rights told PinkNews: “The leaked anti-LGBT+ tirade from the UK government’s equalities minister is deeply depressing.
“I feel for the human rights workers at pro-equality organisations who now have to sit in a room with the minister knowing what she privately thinks about trans and gay people.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “These comments are disgusting.”
We’re shocked to hear of the comments attributed to the Minister, which are both hurtful and harmful to LGBTQ+ communities. https://t.co/Rt1ZLUcAN4
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) September 17, 2021
These comments are disgusting.
With hate crimes and transphobia on the rise we need an Equalities Minister who will stand up for trans people, not add fuel to the fire of abuse and discrimination faced by LGBT+ people in our country. https://t.co/jqoUkxuhqt
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) September 17, 2021
Discussing the matter on Friday, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Well, obviously the prime minister has had cabinet this morning. I haven’t spoken to him on that.
“The minister for equalities is working hard to deliver for LGBT people, whether that’s modernising the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate, driving forward LGBT rights in the workplace or banning conversion therapy.”
“This 2018 comment has been taken out of context, with the Minister making a clear point about striking the balance for equality and fairness when there are multiple and often competing demands between different groups. It should not be used to misrepresent her views.”
The story broke on Friday morning. On Thursday, Badenoch was promoted in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle to become the “levelling up” minister while staying in her role with equalities.
Last month, she was tipped to be a rising star within the Tory party and was even pipped to replace Gavin Williamson as education secretary according to some reports.
Badenoch’s history in government
Badenoch has been criticised for her attitudes towards the LGBTQ community ever since she became the equalities minister back in February 2020.
Several members of the LGBTQ advisory panel left their roles this year after the ban on gay conversion therapy was delayed. One member claimed Badenoch did not understand the community, and asked her to step aside.
Before becoming equalities minister, the MP abstained every vote relating to gay rights and marriage. She is now responsible for the government’s strategy towards LGBTQ rights.
Badenoch clashed with HuffPost UK last year when she accused journalist Nadine White of “making up claims” and being “creepy and bizarre”.
White had emailed Badenoch, asking why she did not appear in video promoting Covid vaccines among black, asian and minority ethnic communities.
The minister then published screenshots of the reporter’s requests with White’s name visible, triggering a flurry of online abuse towards the journalist.
The prime minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton claimed Badenoch had “been civil” towards White.
Help and support:
London Lesbian & Gay switchboard (LLGS) is a free confidential support & information helpline for LGBT communities throughout the UK | 0300 330 0630
Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard is a free support, information and referral service for the Manchester and North-West area | 0161 235 8000
Stonewall for more information on other LGBT services and helplines | 08000 502020
The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.