Jeremy Corbyn condemns Kemi Badenoch after first appearance as women and equalities minister

Jeremy Corbyn and Kemi Badenoch

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called out Kemi Badenoch for her first appearance as women and equalities minister, where she failed to mention any substantial support for LGBTQ+ people in the UK.

Instead, in the House of Commons, she launched an attack on PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen.

Corbyn, who has championed and fought for LGBTQ+ rights throughout his career, took to Twitter on Wednesday (26 October) to share his disappointment.

“Kemi Badenoch could have used her first appearance as women and equalities minister to ban conversion therapy, demand better trans healthcare and condemn the rise in LGBT+ hate crimes. 

“Instead, she attacked the CEO of PinkNews. The entire LGBT+ community have my full support.”

The tweet has so far accumulated more than 9,500 likes and has also been retweeted thousands of times. 

Badenoch attacked Cohen after being asked about a series of tweets posted by the PinkNews CEO in response to her appointment in Rishi Sunak’s government.

In the tweets, Cohen criticised Badenoch for describing trans women as “men” and noted that she abstained on a vote to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, among other issues.

When asked to respond to the tweets, Badenoch said “this particular individual is someone who uses Twitter as a tool for defamation”, wrongly suggesting he had been sued as a result.

Cohen shared his disappointment in Badenoch spreading “misinformation and untruths”, and requested a formal apology.

“It is disappointing that one of the first actions of the new minister for women and equalities is to use their parliamentary privilege to spread misinformation and untruths,” Cohen said.

“They inaccurately stated that I use ‘Twitter as a tool for defamation’, also alleging that ‘Members of this House’ have sued me.

“This is a disgrace and a complete fabrication, seeing as neither PinkNewsnor I have ever been successfully sued by anyone.

“She then referred to the member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) having sued me/PinkNews. This is untrue, and I would have hope that a cabinet minister would understand the important legal distinction between a threat and actually bringing a court case against an individual or organisation.”

He added: “I await a formal apology from the minister, as well as for her to correct the parliamentary record.”

‘Grave concern’

On Tuesday, (25 October), Sunak announced Badenoch to his cabinet as minister for women and equalities. 

Badenoch’s appointment has been one that has evoked “grave concern” among the LGBTQ+ community due to her history of working against LGBTQ+ rights. 

In remarks leaked on a recording obtained by VICE World News in 2021, but made in 2018, Badenoch reportedly described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms” and asked: “We’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?”

She was also slammed for allegedly holding meetings with so-called “ex-gay” groups and leaping to the defence of anti-trans professor, Kathleen Stock.

When she launched her 2022 campaign to become Prime Minister, gender neutral toilets at her launch venue had signs reading “men” and “ladies” taped to the doors.

A brief overview of Badenoch’s history reveals exactly why the queer community are concerned about her appointment.

In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn – who is now an independent MP for Islington North after Sir Keir Starmer removed the Labour whip in 2020 – has proved over the years that he’s a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

His dedication to improving LGBTQ+ rights includes consistently voting for equal marriage, defending a group of gay squatters in the 70s and backing trans rights.