Tories to unveil new LGBT+ strategy including trans healthcare reforms, equalities minister says

Tory equalities minister Mike Freer.

After abandoning its LGBT+ Action Plan, it appears the UK government is readying a new LGBT+ strategy.

Equalities minister Mike Freer told the i that a new cross-government strategy will cover issues including sex work, homelessness, veterans, IVF, and LGBT-specific healthcare.

The newspaper reports that the strategy will mostly cover England and Wales, and is set to be announced by Freer at the Tories’ global LGBT+ equality conference next month.

Freer told the i he has been tasked with a “major domestic piece of work”, and that a priority would be improving gender-affirming healthcare for trans people.

The recent Cass Review interim report into gender-affirming care for young trans people, highlighted the failing current system and called for urgent reforms.

It is unclear whether there will be new funding allocated to the LGBT+ strategy or whether it will come under current budgets, which is a prime concern for groups working towards LGBT+ equality.

Debbie Laycock, head of policy at HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, welcomed the announcement in a statement to PinkNews.

“We hope that it reflects a renewed focus on tackling the inequalities faced by the community,” Laycock said, adding: “It’s vital that the strategy prioritises improving access to sexual health services for the LGBT community, including reversing the severe cuts that services have experienced.”

Laycock noted that the government is yet to confirm that additional funding will be allocated to the strategy, warning: “For us to see real progress, they must ensure that this work is fully funded.”

“We’re also calling on the government to include commitments to ending new cases of HIV in LGBT communities by 2030, the expansion of access to HIV prevention pill PrEP and HIV testing should be key interventions in this,” Laycock added.

“It’s also imperative for the government to make certain that mandatory RSHE [relationships, sex and health education] is inclusive and implemented in all schools across the UK so that no young people miss out on vital LGBT sex and relationships education.

“Intersectionality must be a cornerstone of the strategy – it must address the intersecting oppressions faced by LGBT people from racially minoritised communities, and those in the community living with a disability, because progress that isn’t felt by everyone isn’t progress at all.

“The government also must take a clear stand to support the rights and wellbeing of trans people.”

New LGBT+ strategy is coming comes a year after Liz Truss scrapped previous plan

In May, 2021, Liz Truss confirmed that the Conservative government’s 2018 LGBT+ Action Plan, produced under Theresa May, had been scrapped.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) had committed to yearly updates on the action plan, but in a Women and Equalities Committee session Truss was grilled on why there had been no update since the plan was published.

Truss said: “It’s probably because there’s a new government in place, under the leadership of Boris Johnson.”

Labour’s Alex Davies-Jones asked: “So, we should scrap the LGBT Action Plan?”

To which Truss replied: “What I’m saying is, that was set out by the previous administration. I have laid out what our priorities are.”

Truss has been routinely criticised for her attitude towards LGBT+ rights, including the disbandment of the LGBT+ Advisory Panel, her refusal to reform the Gender Recognition Act despite a public consultation showing clear support for it, and her slowness to introduce a ban on conversion therapy.