Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki
The UK government equalities minister has been recorded mocking LGBTQ rights and misgendering trans people.
Kemi Badenoch, who is ironically responsible for policy on sexual orientation and transgender equality, is heard referring to transwomen as "men" and questioning same-sex marriage in recordings dating back to 2018.
She was elected as an MP for Saffron Walden in 2017 and in Boris Johnson’s latest reshuffle on Wednesday (15 September) she was made a minister in the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.
“The whole bathroom thing”
According to Vice News, Ms. Badenoch was in her parliamentary office when she said: “It’s no longer about minority rights in terms of race any more or nationality […] 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?”
As well as using an outdated term for transgender people, she misgendered transwomen as "men" when discussing people using bathrooms matching their gender identity (which she called “the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,” she continued.
In a statement to Vice News, a UK government spokesperson said: “The Minister for Equalities is working hard to deliver for LGBT people, whether that is modernising the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate, driving forward LGBT rights in the workplace or banning conversion therapy.”
It also says the comments have been “taken out of context” and should “not be used to misrepresent her views.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called the comments “disgusting” and said: “The Equalities Minister should not be in her post if she does not believe that.”
The LGBTQ charity, Stonewall, says it's "shocked" by the reports and has called on the minister to clarify her comments and reaffirm her commitment to the LGBTQ community.
It is the responsibility of the Minister of State for Equalities to be a champion for all marginalised communities, regardless of personal opinion.— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) September 17, 2021
We call on the Minister to clarify her remarks and reaffirm her support for all LGBTQ+ people urgently.
In March, Badenoch was urged to “consider” her role by Jayne Ozanne, a member of a now-defunct LGBT advisory panel. Ozanne, who also quit the Conservative party, said Badenoch and her colleague Liz Truss didn’t understand the LGBTQ community.
She told the BBC: “I don't believe they have the best interests of the LGBT community in their minds and I don't think they understand us," she said of Badenoch and Truss. I do think there are others more suited to this role who have more time to engage, and more heart for the work.”
It followed a debate on banning conversion therapy in the House of Commons where Badenoch caused concern among LGBTQ groups by talking of an “end” to the practice, rather than a ban.
Badenoch said the practice has “no place in a civilised society” but added “robust” laws are already in place to stop the most extreme examples, adding the government does not want to stop those who “seek spiritual counselling as they explore their sexual orientation.”
Last year she also met with the LGB Alliance, a notoriously transphobic group that claims to represent the LGB sections of the community.
The Attitude October issue is out now.