Liz Truss: LGBTQ+ leaders urge next PM to ‘build bridges’ after race ‘marred by transphobia’

A graphic depicting Liz Truss in front of LGBTQ+ advocates

Liz Truss is being urged to work with the LGBTQ+ community as she becomes prime minister.

Truss was announced as the new leader of the Conservative party on Monday (5 September), beating former chancellor Rishi Sunak. She will become the UK’s third woman prime minister when she takes office on Tuesday (6 September).

Truss vowed during her acceptance speech to “govern as a Conservative” by delivering a “bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy”. She becomes the prime minister at a time when the UK faces a looming cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and soaring energy bills. 

Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, congratulated Truss on her appointment. She said the incoming prime minister must now “build bridges with the LGBTQ+ community”, by delivering on her long-held promises to ban conversion therapy.

“This is a time for leadership, and we hope that our new prime minister will stand up for a world in which all LGBTQ+ people can live our lives to the full,” Kelley said.

Liz Truss stands at a podium with the word 'opportunity' written on it

LGBTQ+ advocates said prime minister Liz Truss should “listen to the actual experiences of community members” when building future policies. (Getty)

Former LGBTQ+ government adviser Jayne Ozanne highlighted how Truss committed to banning conversion therapy and hoped that a “fully ban will be a priority for her”.
“The new prime minister has a major opportunity to reset relations with the LGBTQ+ community and to ensure right protections are in place,” Ozanne wrote.

However, other LGBTQ+ groups and advocates have sounded the alarm.

Truss takes office after a leadership race “marred by transphobia”, noted Cleo Madeleine, communications officer for Gendered Intelligence. 

However, she noted that as minister for women and equalities, Truss oversaw an office “that often worked to support trans people and she vocally committed to banning conversion therapy”, she added.

Truss was reportedly blindsided by Boris Johnson’s decision to press ahead with a trans-exclusionary ban.

Madeleine said it’s time for Truss to “show that she can keep her promises by pressing ahead with the ban”, to put an end to “political point-scoring” and to address issues that matter, including the cost-of-living crisis, fuel poverty and climate change. 

“The government has an opportunity to stop the campaign of discrimination and hatred towards trans people that has led to international condemnation and skyrocketing hate crime. Let’s not waste it.”

Liz Truss stands at a podium after it is announced she won the Tory leadership election

Liz Truss ‘jeopardised the lives and welfare’ of LGBTQ+ refugees with her ‘heartless deportation of asylum applicants to Rwanda’. (Getty)

Ibtisam Ahmed, head of policy and research for the LGBT Foundation, said that Truss and her cabinet must “listen to the actual experiences of community members” and “recognise gaps in equality for marginalised members” of the queer community. 

“Issues facing the country – the cost-of-living crisis, racial justice, migrants’ rights, disability justice, healthcare access – all impact the LGBTQ+ community, and we will continue to uplift voices that are left unheard,” Ahmed said.

As minister for women and equalities, Truss scrapped reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. The previous administration also saw hate crime reports soar and wait times for trans healthcare spiral out of control, with only tentative steps to address the crisis being announced earlier this year.

A spokesperson for trans youth charity Mermaids said the Tory government must urgently “reframe trans healthcare as a public health issue”, with the system in “dire need of funding, specialist resources and expertise”. 

It added the government cannot “pick and choose” which members of the LGBTQ+ community are protected by legislation banning conversion practices. 

“Trans people deserve the freedom to be ourselves as much as the next person,” the charity said. 

“Our community is facing an overwhelmingly hostile social and political landscape that is, in turn, creating a mental health crisis and quite literally costing lives. Enough is enough, we need action.”

Liz Truss wears a dark blue jacket with a red poppy as she stands outside

Campaigners called on Liz Truss to “eliminate monkeypox in the UK”. (Getty)

Ceri Smith – head of policy for the Terrence Higgins Trust – said Truss has a real opportunity to show leadership in the UK’s “fight to end new cases of HIV by 2030, support people living with HIV and promote good sexual health for all”. 

Smith warned the current monkeypox outbreak “threatens progress on all these fronts” and said it’s vital the new Tory government “takes urgent steps to get the outbreak under control”. 

“Since May 2022, the UK monkeypox outbreak has become a crisis and as a result, sexual health clinics are overwhelmed, with some seeing a 90 per cent reduction in access to the HIV prevention pill PrEP and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC),” Smith said.

She continued: “We need urgent action and leadership from the prime minister now, to eliminate monkeypox in the UK. 

“Allowing it to become endemic risks exacerbating the health inequalities experienced by gay and bisexual men.”

Smith explained the current disruption to access to HIV prevention and testing puts the UK in “danger of failing to meet” the government’s 2030 target. 

She called on Truss to appoint a “monkeypox tsar” to oversee the “response and finally show the leadership in tackling the outbreak that the government response to date has been desperately lacking”.