Liz Truss lavished praise on the Heritage Foundation, the US conservative think tank that has led efforts to undermine transgender rights, weeks before her appointment as equalities minister.
Earlier this month, Truss made the controversial decision to abandon planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, overriding a consultation which found overwhelming support for updating the law.
The minister has faced pressure to detail the groups she met with in the run-up to her decision, after doubt was cast over her claims to have consulted with several LGBT+ groups and trans charities.
One group Truss definitely has met with, however, is the Heritage Foundation. The Conservative minister met with the powerful conservative lobbying group in August 2019 in her role as trade secretary – weeks before she was handed the role of equalities minister by Boris Johnson.
Heritage Foundation has led attacks on LGBT+ rights.
Known for its influence among US Republicans and hard-line views on abortion and LGBT+ rights, the Heritage Foundation continues to attack equal marriage and advocate for anti-LGBT ‘freedom to discriminate’ measures in the United States. The ‘dark money’ group, which receives funding from the Koch brothers, has also been accused of funnelling support to ‘gender critical’ feminists to help them attack trans rights.
In a speech live-streamed from the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC in August 2019, Truss praised the group for being at the “forefront of Republican thinking as we move into the next decade” as she talked up the possibility of a US-UK free trade deal.
Truss made a previous three-day visit to Washington DC in September 2018, according to Greenpeace’s investigative branch Unearthed, where she held “off the record” conversations with the Heritage Foundation and Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute.
The Heritage Foundation looms large over much of US Republican politics, most recently playing a key role in Donald Trump’s nomination of ultra-conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court.
The decision to pick Barrett, which is likely to effectively erase the court’s consensus on LGBT+ rights and lead to painful years ahead on the issue, followed the Heritage Foundation promoting her for the role.
PinkNews has contacted Liz Truss for comment.
Calls for Liz Truss to be removed from equalities role.
Tory MP Crispin Blunt, chair of the APPG on Global LGBT+ Rights, last week called for the equalities brief to be removed from Truss entirely.
He said: “Trans people in the UK deserve better. It is clear that the minister for women and equalities does not have the time or necessary empathy to continue in this role. Her characterisation of this as a clash of competing rights betrays a fatal misunderstanding.
“Rights for trans people are individual human rights and any restriction of these must be on a proportionate and reasonable basis.
Blunt added: “On equalities, her approach has been didactic and suggestive of someone who has a set view and is short of time to think things through and does not respect the advice of others both inside and outside government who have long experience of the values and issues at stake and why this matters so much to people.”