Conservative minister for women and equalities Liz Truss has suggested that the government has dropped its commitment to the 2018 LGBT Action Plan.
In a women and equalities committee session about the role of the Government Equalities Office (GEO), Truss was grilled by Labour’s Alex Davies-Jones about the LGBT Action Plan.
Pointing out that the GEO has a commitment to give a yearly update to the women and equalities committee on the implementation of the action plan, Davies-Jones asked Truss – minister at the GEO – why the committee hasn’t had an update since July 2018, which is the month the LGBT Action Plan was published.
Truss replied: “It’s probably because there’s a new government in place, under the leadership of Boris Johnson.”
Davies-Jones then asked: “So, we should scrap the LGBT Action Plan?”
To which Truss replied: “What I’m saying is, that was set out by the previous administration. I have laid out what our priorities are.”
Ms Truss ignored the pledge made to PinkNews by Boris Johnson ahead of the 2019 general election that his government was “committed” to the 2018 LGBT Action plan defined by Theresa May’s government.
“The prime minister made clear in the Queen’s Speech that we are moving forward on banning conversion therapy, on the LGBT conference, and those are our priorities.”
The Queen’s Speech promised a conversion therapy ban will be brought forward during the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May. It came almost three years after the Conservative party’s 2018 pledge to “eradicate” conversion therapy in the UK as part of its LGBT+ Action Plan.
The GEO has confirmed that legislation will be advanced following a public consultation process which will “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom”.
LGBT+ organisations have expressed concern at the plan to hold a public consultation on conversion therapy, with some warning that it could lead to exemptions for religious bodies.
Asked earlier in the women and equalities committee session by Tory MP and committee chair Caroline Nokes if this government intends to honour the commitments made in the LGBT Action Plan in 2018, Truss said: “We’ve set out our plan for LGBT advancement of rights, so I talked earlier about our international LGBT conference – that will be the first one that the United Kingdom has ever held, on the theme of ‘Safe to be Me’ showing our global leadership on the issue.
“We also, in the Queen’s Speech, announced that we will be legislating to ban conversion therapy in this country and we’re also working hard with business to ensure there is support for LGBT people in business, particularly in small businesses. So those are the priorities as I’ve set them out.”
Truss also said she will be appointing a new LGBT panel “in due course” to “support those priorities”.
An Equality Hub spokesperson said: “The Minister for Women and Equalities has clearly set out her plan for the advancement of LGBT rights, including the banning of conversion therapy, and the UK’s first international LGBT Conference, showcasing our global leadership on the issue. We will appoint an LGBT panel in due course to support those priorities.”