Nicky Morgan slams Boris Johnson over ‘misguided’ Brexit gay rights claims

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

PinkNews Exclusive
Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan has criticised Boris Johnson for his “misguided” comments about LGBT rights in the EU.

In a video last month, the former Mayor of London had encouraged LGBT people to vote to leave the EU, claiming LGBT rights victories in the UK had come from “our courts and Parliament” and not Europe.

Mr Johnson added that LGBT people should vote to “take back control” because LGBT rights are “under threat in Poland, in Hungary, in Romania, and other parts of the EU”.

However, in an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said the comments were “misguided”.

Mrs Morgan, who also serves as Secretary of State for Education, said she disagreed with her Parliamentary colleague’s comments.

She said: “I think what Boris said, and what others on that side have said, is very misguided.

“There is no doubt there are some people… not Boris, but some people on the Leave side, probably aren’t interested in issues of discrimination.

“Some of them think equality has gone too far anyway, but I think it’s misguided.

“Again, it’s not just about what happens in this country, it’s about what happens in other European countries and the wider world.

“We have the ability through the EU to influence that… so why would we step away from being able to change the cause of equality across Europe?”

She also challenged suggestions that no LGBT rights victories have come from Europe.

She said: “There are things that the EU has led the way on.

“Things like anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender are absolutely embedded in EU law, which means that LGBT people benefit even more from being members of the EU.

“We benefit from some of the court judgements as well.”

Elsewhere, Mrs Morgan warned that the ‘legal tangle’ of equality legislation may need years of work if the UK does opt to leave.

She said: “One of the things that hasn’t really been explored is the legal tangle that will result if we were to leave the EU.

“Some of the anti-discrimination provisions that come from the EU, that we have adopted into UK law… what happens to those?

“Do we really want to have another debate about discrimination, and a lack of protection with regards to sexual orientation?

“We’ve had those debates, we’ve got a track record.

“We’re leading the debate in the EU, we’re leading the debate around the world: let’s focus on that, not focus on going backwards.”

The Education Secretary also emerged at odds with the Home Secretary on whether Britain should remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

Last month, Theresa May argued that the case for Britain remaining a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights was not clear.

Asked by PinkNews if the UK should remain a signatory, Mrs Morgan said: “Yes, absolutely. I think we derive enormous strength from that, and that’s not what people have an issue with.” She added: “We’ve got anti-discrimination laws in the UK, but we benefit from some of the court judgements as well.”

The cabinet minister also revealed that she has been debating the issue with her mother. “I’ve had the same debate with my mother,” she explained when a PinkNews journalist described a conversation with their parents about the benefits of EU membership.

Click here to read the full interview