Boris Johnson’s LGBT+ business champion has resigned over the Government’s U-turn excluding trans people from a conversion therapy ban.
Iain Anderson has resigned from his role in response to the Tory government’s chaotic and dangerous handling of a long-promised ban on conversion therapy in the UK.
Anderson was appointed to the new role, which was only created back in September, to ensure LGBT+ equality in the workplace, reduce discrimination and to make sure that businesses are doing “all they can” to guarantee the UK is an inclusive place to live and work.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced his appointment on 10 September 2021, stating that the role would see Anderson partner with businesses to support LGBTQ+ people in the workplace as he attempts to find solutions to workplace discrimination.
Just months later (5 April 2022), Anderson has announced his resignation.
He said, in a letter that was shared to Twitter, that it had been the honour of his life to serve as the UK’s first LGBT+ business champion, but felt he had “no choice” but to resign.
“As a young gay man I lived through fear and oppression under the backdrop of Section 28“, he said, “I could never have dreamt then that a government – any government – would appoint an LGBT+ champion later in my lifetime.”
“However the recent leaking of a plan to drop the Government’s flagship legislation protecting LGBT+ people from conversion therapy was devastating. Conversion therapy is abhorrent”, he continued.
“Only hours later to see this plan retracted but briefing take place that trans people would be excluded from the legislation and therefore not have the same immediate protections from this practice was deeply damaging to my work.”
Anderson went on to add that, “Britain needs a strategy for trans people and I can’t see one at the moment,”
“We have a tabloid debate going on about people’s lives. It’s not a respectful debate, it’s turned into a woke war. It’s turned into a wedge issue… I was LGBT Business Champion not LGB or T, and that’s why I’m walking away.”
— Iain Anderson (@iain_w_anderson) April 5, 2022
On May 4th, despite a huge public outcry on the matter, the Tory Government issued a statement confirming their plans to treat trans conversion therapy separately to gay conversion therapy when they legislate the ban “due to their concerns about “unintended consequences”, particularly for under 18s.”
Anderson’s resignation comes after more than 110 (updated) LGBTQ+ organisations dropped out of the Safe to Be Me conference, which is due to take place this June to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride, and had been billed by the government as the UK’s first ever global LGBT+ conference.
The groups jointly withdrew support for the conference yesterday (4th April), to protest the government’s exclusion of trans people from the ban, under the LGBT+ Consortium, an umbrella body for charities working in the UK.
The withdrawal from such major organisation’s leaves the planned conference all but dead in the water, unless Johnson “reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy”.
Among these included are Stonewall, the Terrence Higgins Trust and The LGBT Foundation.
“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 joint statement read.
Jamie Wallis, Conservative MP for Bridgend, who last week came 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”‘.
“I’m bitterly disappointed at the Government’s decision not to include gender identity in the ban on conversion therapy. Many have asked what my thoughts are. I’ve always believed that this debate attracts unnecessary hysteria and toxicity, and meaningful results can only come from meaningful debate. Understandably, concerns need to be looked at and debated, but it is wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as “abhorrent”.”
3/ I hope the announcement that a separate piece of work will now be done on this issue will be done at speed. If the CT ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise.
— Jamie Wallis MP (@JamieWallisMP) April 4, 2022