Labour MP Chris Bryant has said he feels “physically less safe” as a gay man than he did 30 years ago, blaming “Tory culture wars”.
Bryant, who is chair of the Commons Standards Committee, made the comments in an appearance on the BBC podcast Political Thinking with Nick Robinson.
He specifically criticised the UK government’s stance on trans rights, that it was “not prepared” to implement a “proper ban” on conversion therapy, and Boris Johnson’s history of anti-LGBT+ comments.
Bryant said: “I’ve discussed this with people in Downing Street, I think that they’re very happy to have culture wars.
“They’ve learned this trick in America, from Trump, and in the end culture wars will always pick on those who are slightly different and that means the gays, the Jews and the Blacks, that’s always the list that crops up whenever a populist government gets into power.”
Gay MP Chris Bryant is ‘filled with unease’ over government’s record on LGBT+ rights
Chris Bryant continued: “I think the place that they’ve taken the debate about trans [rights] and contributed to [me feeling nervous].
“The fact that they’re not prepared to do a proper ban on conversion therapy, Boris’s own history of [saying] ‘tank-topped bum boys’, saying that if you were to allow gay marriage why not allow two men and a dog to marry.
“All of that kind of stuff, it just fills me with a great deal of unease.”
Bryant explained that in the world of politics, there are people who think it is “politically advantageous to stir that pot, and that makes genuinely fearful”.
He added: “I’m not accusing the prime minister of being homophobic but I do feel less physically safe than I did 30 years ago as a gay man.”
Bryant pointed to the “number of hate crimes” which “have risen dramatically over the last few years” and the mental health crisis among LGBT+ youth, and said: “Then when the government takes a pop at Stonewall, takes a pop at Diversity Role Models, I just want to go: ‘I’m sorry, I thought we’d moved on.'”
In response to Bryant’s comments, a No 10 spokesperson told the BBC: “The prime minister is proud of this government’s record on LGBT+ issues and we continue to make progress in areas such as banning conversion therapy and extending same-sex marriage to all parts of the UK.
“He is also absolutely clear there is no place for homophobic abuse.”