Kemi Badenoch as equalities minister leaves LGBTQ+ activists ‘deeply fearful’ for the future
LGBTQ+ activists are “deeply fearful” for the future after Kemi Badenoch was appointed minister for women and equalities by Rishi Sunak.
Badenoch – who met with anti-trans pressure groups and once called trans women “men” – was appointed to the post on Tuesday (25 October) as part of prime minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle. She will also serve as secretary of state for international trade.
Jayne Ozanne, an LGBTQ+ activist who quit the government’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Panel during Badenoch’s last stint in the equalities office, described Sunak’s reshuffle as “one of the most divisive and alarming in recent years”.
“My gravest concern is the highly divisive decision to give Ms Badenoch to the equalities brief,” Ozanne told PinkNews.
“When she held the role previously she sought to fuel gender wars and speak against the need for a full ban on ‘conversion therapy’, rarely meeting with those she was tasked to protect.
“I am now deeply fearful for the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in Britain and can only hope that our international partners will try to hold her to account as she seeks to do trade deals with them.”
Kemi Badenoch appointment is ‘a step backwards’
Cleo Madeleine, communications officer at trans charity Gendered Intelligence, described Badenoch’s appointment as “a huge step backwards for LGBTQ+ rights in the UK”.
“Badenoch has previously described herself as ‘anti-woke’ – a common dogwhistle used by the far-right to signal opposition to social justice causes – and has pressured the supposedly independent EHRC to move away from trans-inclusive policies,” Madeleine said.
“Her appointment suggests at best a lack of sincere commitment to the equalities portfolio and at worst a move towards an anti-trans agenda.
“The last two prime ministers left legacies of failure and broken relationships with the LGBTQ+ community. If the new government wants to avoid falling into the same traps as the last, it must avoid getting dragged into the pointless culture war issues and focus on delivering long overdue promises, like the LGBT Action Plan and the ban on conversion practices.”
Badenoch has a long history of courting anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. During her stint as junior equalities minister under Liz Truss, Badenoch met with the anti-trans pressure group LGB Alliance, a move which she later defended in a Sunday Times article.
In that op-ed, Badenoch wrote that she “decided to listen to every perspective” on trans issues, adding: “I noticed officials seemed to be consulting the same people and previous ministers had created an LGBT advisory panel that was clearly suffering from groupthink.”
During Badenoch’s time as junior minister in the equalities office, the government dropped Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform and decided to push ahead with a conversion therapy ban that excluded trans people (no legislation has been brought forward – the government collapsed before any progress was made).
Badenoch has also repeatedly used her platform to speak out against trans rights. In a leaked recording obtained by Vice, she was heard referring to trans women as “men”.
In July, she spoke at a “free speech event” at which she called for the abolition of gender-neutral toilets.
When she launched her failed leadership bid in the summer, Badenoch had handwritten signs saying “men” and “ladies” taped to the doors of gender-neutral toilets at the venue.
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