Norfolk MP under fire as LGBT advisers quit

South West Norfolk Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss Photo: UK Parliament

South West Norfolk Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss Photo: UK Parliament - Credit: UK Parliament

Two of the government's LGBT advisers have resigned as they issued sharp criticism of two equalities ministers, including Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

First to quit on Wednesday was Jayne Ozanne, who accused Boris Johnson's Government of creating a "hostile environment" for LGBT people and criticised the two ministers as being "ignorant" on key issues.

Then the Government Equalities Office confirmed that it had received the resignation from the LGBT advisory panel of James Morton, who has been a manager at the Scottish Trans Alliance.

Mr Morton said he had been "very concerned for several months that Liz Truss and her junior ministers are not committed to LGBT equality", the BBC reported.

"It doesn't appear that they're doing anything useful or helpful for trans people, in terms of government policy," he added.

Ms Ozanne, who describes herself as a gay evangelical Christian, said Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, and Ms Badenoch were known in the LGBT community as the "ministers for inequality".

"I've been increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration," Ms Ozanne told ITV.

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"Over the years which the advisory panel has met, we've seen an increasing lack of engagement and the actions of ministers have frankly been against our advice.

"I don't believe that they understand LGBT people, particularly trans people," she said.

"I've sat in meetings and I've been astonished about how ignorant they are on issues that affect the real lives, particularly of younger people."

She said the catalyst for her resignation was a debate in Parliament on gay conversion therapy - and appealed to the prime minister to understand that the current proposals do not have the confidence of the LGBT community.

Ms Ozanne, who has also resigned as a member of the Conservative Party, said she fears the government is going backwards on LGBT equality.

"There are many who fear that we are going back to the days of (Margaret) Thatcher, the days of Section 28.

"The language that I hear from them is of us being woke, or of being loud lobby groups, and what they don't seem to understand is the reason we have to shout is because we are hurting, because there are people who are vulnerable who are going unheard and unnoticed.

"I do not believe this Tory government, sadly, have the best wishes of the LGBT community at heart.

"Instead we seem to have a Trump-esque mode of operation where they're listening to the right-wing evangelicals and those frankly who want to take us back."

The resignations come as a group of nearly 20 LGBT+ organisations have reportedly written to Ms Badenoch to express their "deep concern" at her response to calls to ban conversion therapy.

Signatories to the letter - coordinated by Ms Ozanne and including campaigner Peter Tatchell and the organisation Stonewall - accused the minister of inaction after the Conservative party's pledge in 2018 to eradicate the controversial therapy.

They said they "fail to understand why - after nearly 1,000 days - coming forward with meaningful legislation is taking so much time".

The BBC reports the signatories also wrote they were "extremely troubled" after the minister made no mention during the debate of protection for trans people, despite this group being "the most likely to be at risk".

Asked about Ms Ozanne's resignation, senior Conservative MP Caroline Nokes called for ministers to legislate "quickly to have an outright ban on conversion therapy".

"It seems to be incredibly difficult for the Government to move as fast as the country," the chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee told ITV's Peston.

A government spokesman said: "The government is committed to building a country in which everyone, no matter their sexuality, race or religion, is free to live their lives as they choose.

"We have repeatedly made clear that we will take action to end conversion therapy and we are working to bring forward plans to do so shortly."

Labour's shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said: "This Government have prevaricated over banning conversion therapy for far too long, despite their clear promise to do exactly that.

"This is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to dismiss the real impact of the discrimination experienced by so many and takes us back to the days of Thatcher.

"The government must get on with setting out a clear plan now which will see an end to this inhumane practice that has no place in modern Britain."