Keir Starmer slams government’s monkeypox failures and pledges to appoint LGBTQ+ envoy

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer told the PinkNews Awards 2022 that a Labour government would ban conversion therapy and appoint an international LGBTQ+ rights envoy.

The PinkNews Awards 2022 is supported by joint headline sponsors Lloyds Banking Group and United Airlines.

Starmer also criticised the government’s response to the monkeypox outbreak in a speech at the awards, taking place in Westminster on Wednesday night (19 October), and made a number of promises to the UK’s LGBTQ+ community.

The Labour leader said it’s time to “ban all conversion therapy” in the UK, following U-turns and broken promises from the current Conservative government.

“I’ve been very clear – my Labour government will uphold the Equality Act we were proud to pass in 2010, including its provision for single-sex spaces,” he added.

“And we will also modernise the Gender Recognition Act.”

He also promised a new role would be created to work to improve LGBTQ+ rights for people across the world, should Labour come to power.

“I also want to announce that my Labour government will appoint an international LGBT+ rights envoy,” Starmer added.

Keir Starmer singled out negative attitudes towards trans people – stirred up by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunk during the 2022 Conservative Party leadership race – as one of the major issues facing LGBTQ+ people in the UK today.

“It wasn’t long ago that these events served as a symbol of how promoting LGBT+ equality had become an issue of political consensus,” he said.

“And sadly, I’m not sure that still holds.

“The rhetoric we have seen towards trans people is an obvious example.”

Keir Starmer: ‘Too few monkeypox jabs’

Keir Starmer also blamed the Conservative government for abandoning queer men in the UK during the monkeypox outbreak, criticising the lack of vaccines, referencing a similar lack of action during the AIDs crisis in the 1980s.

“I understand how chilling it must have been for the community to once again feel abandoned by a government at a time of a health emergency,” Starmer continued.

“All the trauma that may have reawakened. The outbreak may be in a better place now – but it is still the case that too few jabs have been given and are in fridges when they should be in arms.

Keir Starmer attended the PinkNews Awards 2022 to present the Lifetime of Achievement Award.

The late human rights barrister Jonathan Cooper was honoured, with his husband Kevin Childs accepting on his behalf.

Starmer described Cooper, who died suddenly in 2021 aged 58, as “a wonderful man”, and said he was “so proud” of his human rights work.

Keir Starmer and Kevin Childs. (PinkNews Awards 2022)

He said his approach to the law not as a “rigid framework, but as something that should bend to justice”.

During his prolific career Cooper worked tirelessly to decriminalise homosexuality across the world and helped establish The Human Dignity Trust. The organisation helped support people all over the world who faced persecution due to their identity.

He got involved in Human Rights following his first-hand experiences of the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s.