The Government’s landmark international LGBT+ conference, due to take place in June, has been cancelled.
In a globally embarrassing turn, the government’s flagship LGBTQ+ conference ‘Safe be Be Me’, which was due to take place this June to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride, has had to be cancelled after it fell into disarray following the withdrawal of at least 100 LGBT+ groups and over 20 HIV groups.
The event had been billed by the UK government as the first ever global LGBT+ conference.
Major players, including Stonewall, the Terrence Higgins Trust and The LGBT Foundation, pulled out of the event in protest of the Government’s
bullshit watered-down revision of a ban on conversion therapy, which excluded Trans people.
The groups withdrew under a joint statement, refusing to take part unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson reverted to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on the archaic act.
“Trans people are no less worth of respect, care and protection than cis lesbian, gay and bi people. If the UK government cannot stand behind and respect all LGBTQ+ people’s fundamental human rights, it should not be convening an LGBTQ+ rights conference on the global stage,” a statement read.
Government sources said it was “inevitable” the event would have to be scrapped given the lack of support from key stakeholders, such as Stonewall, according to reports by Guardian.
Iain Anderson, the government’s LGBTQ+ business adviser, then handed in his notice, saying that he was “completely shocked” by the U-turn decision last week not to include Trans people in the ban, which they almost abandoned altogether, but for public backlash.
Anderson suggested that the Government decision was “trying to drive a wedge” between LGB people and our transgender siblings.
It has been the greatest privilege of my life to be @GEOgovuk #LGBT Business Champion. Sadly today I have resigned from that role. My letter to @BorisJohnson here 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/JTrd0yAZBB
— Iain Anderson (@iain_w_anderson) April 5, 2022
Jamie Wallis, Conservative MP for Bridgend, who last week was praised by Boris Johnson for coming out as trans in a highly personal statement, also denounced the Government’s actions on social media.
Wallis tweeted that it was “wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as ‘abhorrent”‘.
Conservative MP Dehenna Davison expressed dismay at the decision to cancel the LGBT+ conference: “We had such a huge opportunity to prove the UK (and the Conservative Party) is a defender of freedom,” she Tweeted. “As a Conservative member of the LGBT+ community, it is so wrong it has come to this.”
We had such a huge opportunity to prove the UK (and the Conservative Party) is a defender of freedom. As a Conservative member of the LGBT+ community, it is so wrong it has come to this. https://t.co/qrnjf1GYyH
— Dehenna Davison MP (@DehennaDavison) April 5, 2022
Consortium, the umbrella body for LGBT+ voluntary and community organisations, said it was a “sad day” but the blame for what happened lay solely with Downing Street.
“The implications of the international LGBT conference being cancelled is solely at the doorstep of No 10,” it said in a statement.
“LGBT+ organisations were left with no choice but to withdraw any support in order to stand in solidarity and partnership with our trans communities.”
“This is a sad day but one where we must begin to change the narrative and look to build a country where every person can feel safe and live a life with dignity and respect.”
It is understood that the decision not to go ahead with the conference was taken by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is also the Equalities Minister.
The furious backlash was sparked last week when the Government went back on its long-promised ban on conversion therapy, only to double U-turn the decision off the back of a public outcry, but not include Trans people in the revsed ban, presumably thinking that they’d get away with that.
Clearly they have not.
This has several implications:
1. It’s embarrassing for UK – other countries were looking to us
2. It makes it harder to bring LGBT organisations back to the table – some were using attendance as bargaining chip
3. It puts govt’s LGBT envoy Lord Herbert on resignation watch
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) April 5, 2022
I said this yesterday, but it is even more true today…
This is the biggest schism between the LGBT community and the government since Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) April 5, 2022