Words: Attitude staff; Image: UK Parliament
As head of the government's Equalities Office — dedicated to policy on 'women, sexual orientation, and trans equality' — Liz Truss is supposed to be the LGBTQ community's our most powerful political mouthpiece. On paper, anyway. But how does her track record on LGBTQ+ rights stack up on closer inspection?
As Boris Johnson's likely resignation as UK prime minister ignites speculation as to the Conversative Party (and country's) next leader, we look back at Truss's LGBTQ policy record.
May 2013 - Truss is one of 117 Tories to vote in favour of marriage equality.
July 2019 - Truss votes to permit sames-ex marriage in Northern Ireland. Two months later, she becomes Minister for Equalities.
September 2020 - Truss announces that long-awaited reforms to the Gender Recognition Act will not include a right to self-ID for trans people. Reform is limited to reducing fees and digitising the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
April 2021 - The government’s LGBT Advisory Panel disbands after a mass exodus over government inaction on a ban on conversion therapy. Panellist and conversion therapy activist Jayne Ozanne later tells Attitude: “To be fair, Truss did meet us on Zoom during the pandemic. But we didn’t have consistent meetings; the action plan was put to one side. It felt like hitting our head against a brick wall. We’d write letters, wouldn’t get responses.”
May 2021 - Truss vows to ban conversion therapy, suggesting an end is in sight to a process started three years earlier after a similar pledge by former Tory PM Theresa May.
2021 - Truss’s Equalities Office underling Kemi Badenoch makes headlines throughout the year for her inflammatory comments about trans people — including calling trans women “men” and “transsexuals” in leaked recordings — but keeps her job.
October 2021 - Truss finally reveals the government’s proposals for a conversion therapy ban, with a draft bill arriving in spring 2022. Critics call it a ban ‘in name only’, with major loopholes, including talking therapies for over-18s not being outlawed. Conversion therapy for transgender people will not be included in any ban.
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Truss reiterated her belief that trans people shouldn't be able to self-ID, stating: "It wouldn’t be right to have self-identification with no checks and balances in the system."
She added: "Is it clear process of medical understanding of how that process works, and those medical checks are important."
Truss also added that she agreed with Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who has been criticised for her views on trans people [via Pink News].
"[Roșie Duffield] is right that women have cervixes," Truss said. "But more than that, she’s also right to be able to express her view… when we try and brush things under the carpet and can’t have an open, honest and sensible debate, I think that’s a huge problem for British politics."
LGBTQ+ equality does not appear to be Truss’s top priority — literally. According to reports, during the month of December 2021, she had only one official engagement relating to her equalities role… and 11 relating to her dual role as Foreign Secretary.
In addition to these duties, the overloaded Cabinet Office minister is also Tory MP for southwest Norfolk. It’s her LGBTQ+ constituents we feel most sorry for...