Government LGBT+ adviser quits over fears Tories are ‘returning to days of Section 28’

Jayne Ozanne

Gay evangelical Jayne Ozanne has quit her position on the government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel, claiming there is a “hostile environment for LGBT+ people among this administration”.

Ozanne, who is also director of the Ozanne Foundation which works with “religious organisations to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender”, resigned from the panel on Wednesday (10 March), at the same time as resigning her membership of the Conservative Party.

Her resignation comes on the back of Monday’s (8 March) parliament debate on conversion therapy, almost 1,000 days since the Tories pledged in 2018 to “eradicate” the abhorrent practice as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.

Under-secretary of state for equalities Kemi Badenoch was widely criticised for her “vague” speech during the debate, in which she gave no timeline, mentioned no specifics relating to potential legislation and repeatedly refused to use the word “ban”.

“For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was [Badenoch’s] speech on Monday night, at the end of an extraordinary debate on the need to ban conversion therapy,” Ozanne told ITV.

“Every MP from across the parties, from across the United Kingdom, had stood and talked about the need for urgent action.”

And yet Badenoch, Jayne Ozanne said, talked about “the fact that she’d been engaging with who many of us would say are perpetrators, to enable spiritual abuse, in my mind, to continue”.

Jayne Ozanne, a conversion therapy survivor, said Kemi Badenoch ignored adults who are impacted by the practice

Jayne Ozanne said that while the secretary of state for equalities did discuss the need to protect minors, she showed “no understanding” of the “impact conversion therapy has on adults, like myself, who consented to it, but nearly ended up dying because of it”.

She continued: “Frankly one of the reasons I’m resigning now is to appeal to the prime minister, who I believe is a friend of the LGBT+ community, to act, to understand that the proposals that are going forward on conversion therapy do not have the confidence of the LGBT+ community, do not have the confidence of many senior religious leaders who’ve also called for a ban.”

On Badenoch and her boss, equalities minister Liz Truss, Ozanne added: “They are known among the community as the ‘ministers for inequality’.

“I don’t believe that they understand LGBT+ people, particularly transgender people.

“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.”
Jayne Ozanne, who was appointed to the government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel in 2019, said: “I’ve been increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT+ people among this administration.

“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.”

“There are many who fear that we are going back to the days of Thatcher, the days of Section 28,” she continued.

“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, has the best wishes of the LGBT+ community at heart.”