Welsh secretary David TC Davies’ long, troubling history of ‘ignorant’ anti-LGBTQ+ comments

David TC Davies speaks during the Welsh Conservative Party Conference 2016.

Rishi Sunak’s new Welsh secretary once described same-sex marriage as “barking mad” and has repeatedly used his platform to speak out against trans rights.

David TC Davies was among the Tory MPs who was given a promotion in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday (25 October) – but he’s now facing criticism over his past comments on LGBTQ+ rights.

It started in 2012 when he described same-sex marriage as “barking mad” and said “most parents would prefer their children not to be gay” in an interview with Radio Wales.

The backlash was swift. Davies faced resounding criticism, and shortly afterwards he gave an interview to The Guardian in which he expressed his concern that same-sex marriage would lead to children learning about gay sex in schools.

“This is where it gets sensitive, but I’ve got three kids, and I know a lot of people with children have got this concern,” he said.

He went on to describe heterosexual sex as “the norm”, admitting that that was “probably the wrong word to use”.

“I just worry if children are going to be taught that [heterosexuality] isn’t necessarily the norm, and that you can carry on doing all sorts of other things, are we going to have a situation where the teacher’s saying, ‘Right, this is straight sex, this is gay sex, feel free to choose, it’s perfectly normal to want to do both. And you know, why not try both out?’ I mean, are we going to have that?”

David TC Davies arrives in Downing Street as Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appoints his first Cabinet of Ministers.

David TC Davies arrives in Downing Street as Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appoints his first Cabinet of Ministers. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty)

In the same interview, Davies said he had a friend who came out as gay as a teenager, but later renounced his homosexuality and married a woman.

“I suppose what I’m trying to say, in a very clumsy way, which will again probably cause offence, is that some people might be going through a bit of a funny phase between the age of 15 and 20 when they’re not sure.

“And I’m absolutely not convinced it’s a good idea to be changing sex education in school to try and say to people, ‘Feel free to go out and experiment and do this, that and the other.'”

David TC Davies defended the rights of ‘parents and churchgoers’

In the end, Davies lost his fight against same-sex marriage – it was legalised in 2014 in England and Wales, although he did vote against it when given the opportunity.

In a blog post in 2013, he explained why he voted against equal marriage, saying parliament had heard “a lot about gay rights” but not much about “the rights of parents and churchgoers”.

Davies said: “I strongly believe we should all respect the rights of gays, and oppose discrimination, but it would be nice to see some of the more militant gay rights groups showing a similar understanding of rights of parents and church groups.”

In the years since, he has turned his attention to trans people instead.

In a post on his website, he spoke out against plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), claiming allowing trans people to self-identify would have “a profound impact on the rights of others to maintain sex-based boundaries, protections and rights”.

He went on to speculate about what genitals trans women had and claimed children should be encouraged to “love the bodies they have, not to yearn for something else”.

In 2018, he faced resounding backlash when he tweeted: “Somebody possessing a penis & pair of testicles is definitely not a woman. This should be a biological fact not a matter for political debate. At leastnwe [sic] can agree on something.”

That tweet got him into hot water with LGBT+ Conservatives – the group responded: “David TC Davies’ transphobic views are abhorrent and out of kilter with Conservative Party policy.

“It’s clear that the T in his name stands for transphobe. It’s equally clear what the C stands for.”

An incensed Davies replied: “It is appalling that a Conservative group which purports to stand for equality is willing to allude to the word ‘c**t’ to describe MPs it doesn’t like. You are a disgrace.”

Davies says he opposes discrimination against trans people

In the days after he was appointed Welsh secretary, Davies was asked to clarify his 2018 tweet by LBC.

“Is that something that you still stand by today?” the presenter asked.

In a lengthy reply, Davies said he wanted to make it “very clear” that he opposes discrimination towards trans people.

“I’m totally opposed to any kind of discrimination against anyone who is trans. Absolutely, I think that anyone who abuses either verbally or physically people who are trans or gay or anything else should face exemplary sentences, I’ve always been 100 per cent clear about that.”

However, he went on to describe the “debate” around trans issues as “complex”.

“You’ll notice that I do not tweet about these things because Twitter is an appalling avenue for trying to discuss complex and sensitive issues…”

“I think there are times when women need spaces with privacy but I’m not really wanting to resurrect that particular argument, I’m the secretary of state for Wales and I’m sure there are others in Cabinet who will do a much better job than me of sensitively addressing this issue.”

While Davies claims that he doesn’t tweet about LGBTQ+ issues, what he apparently means is that he stopped doing so in 2019.

His last tweet on the subject was posted on 8 October that year when he claimed that trans rights were “overriding those of women”.

“If girls are not comfortable sharing gender neutral toilets with boys then schools should make provision for them, rather than saying girls have got a problem,” he wrote at the time.

Up until that point, Davies was a regular commentator on trans issues – he frequently tweeted on the subject, telling his followers that children would be “confused” if they were told that boys can have periods too.

In a throwback to his comments about same-sex marriage, he also referred to trans activism as “barking mad” in one tweet – a phrase that he apparently wheels out every few years when discussing LGBTQ+ issues.

His appointment is ‘inappropriate’ given his anti-LGBTQ+ views

Cleo Madeleine, communications officer at Gendered Intelligence, said Davies’ appointment was “inappropriate” given his past comments.

“The appointment of David TC Davies as Welsh secretary is the latest in a string of disappointing cabinet announcements, following on the heels of prominent anti-trans voices like Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch,” Madeleine told PinkNews.

“His history of anti-gay, anti-trans comments seems particularly inappropriate given Wales’ increasingly progressive agenda on LGBT+ issues.

“With the Senedd pledging to make Wales the most LGBT+ friendly nation in Europe and Plaid Cymru resolving to campaign against conversion practices, this choice of secretary feels at best ignorant and at worst insulting to the Welsh people and their LGBT+ communities.”

When approached for comment by Wales Online, Davies defended his record.

“I am a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and voted in 2019 in favour of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland,” he noted.