Tory government’s flagship LGBT conference in shambles amid ‘pinkwashing’ criticism

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seen wearing a white shirt, light blue tie and darker blue suit jacket while walking outside

The Conservative’s much-feted global LGBT+ conference is falling apart at the seams just three months before its launch, according to new reporting.

The Safe To Be Me conference has been touted as the “first ever global LGBT conference” by the government. It’s due to be held in London from 29 June to 1 July to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first London Pride marches.

However, insiders have told Vice World News that corporate sponsors are refusing to get involved because of the government’s track record on supporting and advancing LGBT+ rights.

The government is apparently looking for corporate sponsors who are prepared to make a minimum contribution of £100,000 to the conference, but so far, no such sponsors have agreed to take part, Vice reported.

Major companies such as BP and OVO Energy were asked to sign up, but they declined the opportunity, according to the outlet.

Other companies that have reportedly refused to take part in the conference include Vodafone, Virgin Media and NBC Universal. It is believed that Google is still in talks to become a sponsor for the event.

An employee at an unnamed investment bank reportedly threatened to quit if the bank agreed to become a sponsor of the conference. That organisation ultimately declined the invitation.

“We’re less than three months away, and we have no speakers, no sponsorship, no budget. It’s a mess,” one anonymous staff member told Vice World News.

That employee said they hoped the government would choose to cancel the conference altogether, adding that an event of its size should have been fully organised six to 12 months ago.

Another employee involved in planning the conference said: “This conference is a pinkwashing exercise, nothing more.”

Companies are worried about the government’s ‘poor track record’ on trans issues

Furthermore, Vice reports that LGBT+ charities are reluctant to get involved in the conference due to the government’s approach to LGBT+ rights.

One employee at a charity told Vice: “Ministers have told us that if we don’t show up, the LGB Alliance will take our space instead.”

LGB Alliance has been branded an “anti-trans hate group” by high-profile LGBT+ figures, charities and organisations since its launch in October 2019, including by Pride in London, gay SNP MP John Nicolson, journalist Owen Jones and gay Scottish actor David Paisley. It denies that it is a hate group.

A government spokesperson told Vice World News that it is “fully committed to advancing LGBT+ rights and delivering an inclusive event where everyone can feel safe”.

They continued: “We know that in many places around the world, LGBT+ people do not have protections from violence and discrimination, the conference is seeking to address this so that we can create a world where everyone feels safe to be themselves.”

The spokesperson defended its track record on LGBT+ rights by saying it has modernised the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and by extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

The government faced significant criticism for scrapping planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which would have streamlined the process.

It is also yet to ban conversion therapy despite making repeated pledges to do so, though legislation has been touted for this year.

PinkNews has contacted the Government Equalities Office for comment.