New equalities minister Nadhim Zahawi sparked Section 28 fears with anti-trans dogwhistle

Nadhim Zahawi leaving No 10

Nadhim Zahawi has been named minister for equalities in Liz Truss’ cabinet reshuffle.

Zahawi, the short-lived chancellor appointed to the post by Boris Johnson in July, has been named chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, minister for intergovernmental relations and minister for equalities.

For the latter portfolio, top of Zahawi’s inbox will be legislating a ban on conversion therapy – Boris Johnson finally pulled the trigger on outlawing the practice shortly before his political downfall, though notably he removed trans people from the proposed protections.

Nadhim Zahawi’s appointment to equalities comes just a few short months after he sparked fears for a new Section 28 during his own Tory leadership bid.

As he launched his campaign back in July, Zahawi gave a speech vowing to “focus on letting children be children, protecting them from damaging and inappropriate nonsense being forced on them by radical activists”.

It was widely perceived as a reference to LGBTQ+ advocates, and was compared to Margaret Thatcher’s notorious legislation which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality to children in schools.

Zahawi being named minister for equalities implies that a separate minister for women will be appointed.

Until today, Liz Truss held the combined role of minister for women and equalities, overseeing junior equalities ministers including Mike Freer and Kemi Badenoch.

Badenoch has been widely tipped for a role in Liz Truss’ new cabinet.

Also handed a new roles by Truss is Penny Mordaunt, who becomes leader of the House of Commons. Suella Braverman is home secretary, replacing Priti Patel, and Thérèse Coffey is deputy prime minister and health secretary, replacing Dominic Raab and Steve Barclay.

All three have faced criticism for their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, including Coffey who is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

Kwasi Karteng is the new chancellor, and James Cleverly is the new foreign secretary.

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