Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt: Anti-trans bigotry ‘like 1980s homophobia’

Photo of Penny Mordaunt

Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt has claimed that anti-trans bigotry is like 1980s homophobia.

The Conservative Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt was speaking to Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee today (June 20) when she weighed in on a documented surge in anti-transgender rhetoric in media and public discourse over the past year.

The surge in hostile coverage has been branded a “moral panic” by some LGBT advocates, with media outlets facing accusations of stoking the flames with “often misleading” and alarmist coverage.

Britain’s International Development Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty)

Speaking to the committee, Mordaunt said: “We need to address people’s concerns, but fundamentally I think that discrimination and bigotry is very much like what gay men faced in the 1980s.

“None of us were in politics at that time, but if we were, would we have stood up for that community? I hope we would have.

“But that’s happening now to the trans community, and we really need to show leadership on this issue and really insure that misleading information, unpleasant things on social media, lectures or videos that are being broadcast, are called out for what they are. I feel very strongly around that.”

Penny Mordaunt (Jack Taylor/Getty)

She added: “It is a culture change [that is most needed], quite frankly… there are many things we can do in terms of [laws] and healthcare and other things, but this is really about a culture change.

“I think that we do really need to set the tone for the debate that we’re about to have, and need to show our complete solidarity with the trans community as we do it. This is so important, and it is that cultural shift that is one of the most important things facing us – as the GEO but also the country.

“There needs to be a greater understanding. It is clear to me from some of the broadcast debates that a lot of people don’t know what the trans community is.

“They have all sorts of misconceptions. They don’t know what the issues are that are facing them. They may not have personal experience.

“I think there are lots of myths to be busted, and that’s why our communications around the [Gender Recognition Act reform] are really important. It’s a level of understanding and also empathy, quite frankly.”

Mordaunt also confirmed that a consultation on a process to streamline gender recognition rules would go ahead in the next month.

She said: “It is my plan to publish that before summer recess.

“This is a really important piece of work and it needs to be done well, and it needs to be done in a climate of respect and understanding.

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is ensure that everyone can thrive and go about their daily life and are supported to do that. We have already provided reassurances about certain issues… [but]  there are a whole raft of other issues, and very legitimate questions that people are asking that no doubt will come out in the consultation.”

Penny Mordaunt (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

She also confirmed that non-binary issues would be consulted on.

Mordaunt said: “We’ve waited a long time for a consultation, and we should try and consult on the widest possible range of issues, and clearly non-binary is one of those issues, so I’m very keen that we consult on it.”

Of the substantial delay to the process, she said: “In part, why we have taken a while is twofold: first of all, the [recent national LGBT survey] results were enormous, and give us a very good base to work on.

“Secondly, the action plan is only going to be credible if it’s comprehensive and addressing the issues that people have been championing and asking for for a long time.

“There is always going to be more to do, and there will no doubt be issues that come out through the consultation and in future, but this is a good start.”