Kemi Badenoch. (YouTube)
Tory equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has been slammed by politicians and activists over “disgusting” leaked comments about LGBT+ people – but it appears that Downing Street is standing by her.
On Friday (17 September), Vice World News reported that it had obtained a recording of Badenoch made in 2018, a year after she had been elected as MP for Saffron Walden.
In the recording, Badenoch reportedly described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms”, and asked: “We’ve got gay marriage, and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?”
Veteran LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those to share their disgust and call for her to be replaced. He told PinkNews: “How can you have someone as equalities minister who does not believe in equality for all?
“Kemi Badenoch’s partial, selective approach to equal rights contradicts the comprehensive, inclusive principles of the Equality Act 2010.
“It is also wholly inappropriate that she’s coordinating the government’s Global LGBT+ Conference next year. She should be replaced by an MP with a clear record of defending trans rights and other LGBT+ issues.”
It is the responsibility of the Minister of State for Equalities to be a champion for all marginalised communities, regardless of personal opinion.
We call on the Minister to clarify her remarks and reaffirm her support for all LGBTQ+ people urgently.
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) September 17, 2021
Jayne Ozanne, who quit the government’s LGBT Advisory Panel after accusing the Conservatives of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT+ people, added: “I’m not aware of the full context of what Minister Badenoch has said, but if what she has said is true then she should certainly consider her position.
“As someone whose brief is to champion those who are some of the most marginalised and discriminated against in our society I believe her reported comments are not only deeply offensive but also dangerous.
“This speaks straight into my fears of an increasingly ‘hostile environment’ for LGBT+ people in Britain.”
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, described Badenoch’s comments as “disgusting”.
She added: “With hate crimes and transphobia on the rise we need an equalities minister who will stand up for trans people, not add fuel to the fire of abuse and discrimination faced by LGBT+ people in our country.
“Everyone should be able to be themselves and be celebrated, supported and loved for who they are. The equalities minister should not be in the job if she does not believe that.”
Everyone should be able to be themselves and be celebrated, supported and loved for who they are. The Equalities Minister should not be in the job if she does not believe that.
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) September 17, 2021
I’d like to say I was surprised but I’d be lying.
I’ve said time and again this government is failing LGBT+ people and it’s not by accident, but by design. https://t.co/9EQgNToxT3
— Charlotte Nichols (@charlotte2153) September 17, 2021
This is truly awful https://t.co/sSgDR7CLqI
— Angela Eagle DBE 💙 (@angelaeagle) September 17, 2021
The government defended Kemi Badenoch’s comments as ‘taken out of context’
Despite the widespread criticism, the government has defended Kemi Badenoch’s comments.
A government spokesperson told PinkNews that the equalities minister’s comments had been “taken out of context”.
They 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.
“This 2018 comment has been taken out of context, with the minister making a clear point about striking the balance for equality and fairness when there are multiple and often competing demands between different groups. It should not be used to misrepresent her views.”