‘Ladies’ and ‘men’ signs added to gender-neutral toilets at Kemi Badenoch leadership launch

On the left: Kemi Badenoch speaking from the podium. On the right: A sign reading: 'Ladies'

Handwritten signs saying “Men” and “Ladies” were taped to the doors of gender-neutral toilets at Kemi Badenoch’s Tory leadership campaign launch.

BBC politics reporter Matt Cole claimed that there were “no gender-neutral toilets allowed at launch”, hosted at an office venue in Westminster, as Kemi Badenoch wanted to “underline her point” regarding the Tory-fuelled culture wars. 

PinkNews understands the signs were added before Badenoch and her team arrived at the venue.

In her campaign launch speech, Badenoch said she will squash “social justice” concerns in the name of “free speech”.

She said: “While the priority of the £300 billion the government spends on procurement should be value for money, in truth this is being undermined by tick-box exercises in sustainability, diversity and equality.

“These are good things but they need to be done properly. Why are we spending millions on people’s jobs which literally didn’t exist a decade ago, like staff wellbeing coordinators in the public sector?”

Badenoch served as a junior equalities minister until her resignation last week. She was deeply unpopular in the role among LGBTQ+ advocates who criticised her attitude towards the conversion therapy ban as well as leaked remarks in which she described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms”.

“We’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships,” she reportedly said in 2018, “so what are transsexuals looking for?”

More recently, Badenoch has backed proposals to stop public buildings from only offering gender-neutral toilets – an issue that has been seized upon by Tories hoping to leverage trans hostility into votes.

She told the House of Commons on 4 July before she hoped to tweak building regulations and planning guidance so new office buildings, schools, hospitals and entertainment venues could no longer build spaces with only gender-neutral toilets.

During her launch event, Badenoch touted herself as a tough-on-crime candidate. She said she would “get the police to focus on neighbourhood crime” rather than “waste time and resources worrying about hurt feelings online”.

She also took aim at the “Ben and Jerry tendency” of companies and other institutions that campaign for social causes. The ice cream manufacturer has campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights, refugee rights, climate justice and more, according to its website.

Badenoch promised that as prime minister, she would “discard the priorities of Twitter and focus on people’s priorities instead”.

“We have been in the grip of an underlying economic, social, cultural and intellectual malaise,” she said.

According to The Telegraph, Badenoch spoke at a free speech event at the House of Lords on Monday. She said that civil servants had pushed back against government plans to force public buildings in England to have separate male and female toilets.

Badenoch told the 200-strong crowd of “free speech campaigners” that included the LGB Alliance: “For those of you who saw my toilet announcement on the abolition of gender-neutral toilets, you wouldn’t believe how tough it was to get that through.

“I had civil servants writing on the notice which I had put out saying that ‘you can’t say that’ and ‘’e need to check whether that’s something you are allowed to say’.”

But to cheers from the audience, Badenoch said she shrugged off Whitehall’s concerns and didn’t “change a word” of her proposal.

A relative outsider, the 42-year-old MP for Saffron Walden has quickly become a contender in the Tory leadership challenge, with sacked cabinet minister and kingmaker Michael Gove among the 16 MPs who have publicly backed her while she becomes increasingly popular among Tory voters.

PinkNews contacted Kemi Badenoch for comment.

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