John Nicolson condemns Liz Truss for ‘weaponising’ anti-trans rhetoric hours before she resigned

John Nicolson speaks during a House of Commons debate.

SNP MP John Nicolson has condemned former prime minister Liz Truss for her “anti-trans rhetoric” during the Conservative leadership race.

It came just a few hours before Truss quit her 45 day run as the leader of the UK government.

The shadow culture secretary asked his Conservative counterpart whether she condemned the anti-trans talking points that Truss had used during her campaign, including claims that trans women are not real women.

Nicolson said there has become an “atmosphere of hate” against LGBTQ+ people in the UK, which he said had been “fanned by too many papers and, sadly, politicians.”

Anti-trans rhetoric ‘weaponised’

Nicolson described the closures as a result of the “explosion of hate speech online”, adding that these are “dangerous times”.

“Women are targeted disproportionately and trans women are targeted especially,” he added. “Will the secretary of state agree that the [former] prime minister was wrong to weaponise anti-trans rhetoric during the Tory election leadership campaign?”

He also mentioned his appearance at the PinkNews Awards 2022, saying he was “honoured” to have attended the event, where he collected the Politician of the Year award.


Over the past year, hate crimes against trans people have risen by a shocking 56 per cent according to data from a government report from 6 October.

Additionally, various pro-trans charities and helplines have had to mitigate opening hours due to increased online harassment against volunteers, including Mermaids and the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre.

In response, the culture secretary Michelle Donelan – the fifth that Nicolson has shadowed – said that, while she agrees that hate speech “has no place in our society”, she wasn’t prepared to define it for the Commons.

“Freedom of speech is the bedrock from which all freedoms stem from,” she said.

“I personally believe that every member of this House has a duty to protect free speech as well as protecting our citizens from illegal harms.”

John Nicolson speaks during the PinkNews Awards

At the PinkNews Awards 2022 Nicolson publicly shared his own experiences as a gay MP, while supporting the LGBTQ+ community in its fight for equality.

“I spoke up for trans rights with colleagues cross-party, including conservatives,” he said at the ceremony, those of which included Caroline Nokes and Mike Freer.

During his speech, he looked back on coming out, saying it wasn’t simply one moment in his life, but rather many small steps.

“I came out to my friends and my family when I was in my 20s, and I came out to my workplace whilst presenting the BBC Breakfast news in my 30s,” he said.

Nicolson also recalled an anecdote in which The Sun “decided that I was having a torrid affair with my co-presenter,” which he was not.

“I think I’m probably the only person who’s ever been ‘inned’ rather than outed by The Sun,” he joked.

The question was asked just hours before Liz Truss stepped down as prime minister and Conservative Party leader.




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