LGBTQ+ business leader Iain Anderson quits Tory party due to government stoking ‘culture war’

Ian Anderson

The government’s adviser and LGBT business champion, Iain Anderson, has quit the Tory party to join Labour, blaming his move on the government using LGBTQ+ people in a ‘culture war’.

Iain Anderson, the founder of the public relations firm Cicero and Stonewall’s chair of trustees, told the Financial Times his move was down to concerns that the Tories are stoking a culture war against vulnerable groups.

He had been a member of the party for 40 years.

Named the government’s LGBT business champion in 2021, Anderson said the Tories were “not the party it used to be,” adding he couldn’t “defend it” any more.

In April 2022, Anderson quit his government role over his concerns over ministers’ decisions not to ban archaic conversion therapy practices for transgender people.

He described this as a “deeply damaging” move.

You may like to watch

Citing former prime minister Boris Johnson’s alleged “f*** business” comments in the wake of Brexit, Anderson told the FT: “I’ve tried to understand why a Conservative leader could say that and nobody in the party blinked an eyelid.”

Discussions from inside the party have led Anderson to believe that PM Rishi Sunak would begin to ramp up a damaging “culture war” in the run-up to the 2024 election, with LGBTQ+ people as the target.

“It was made pretty clear the plan is to run a culture war to distract from fundamental economic failings,” Anderson said.

“It’s not something I want any part of.”

Who is Iain Anderson?

In September 2021, Liz Truss, who was then the international trade secretary, announced the appointment of Iain Anderson as the UK’s new LGBT business champion.

He was given the task of driving forward workplace equality, reducing discrimination, and ensuring businesses were doing “all they can” to showcase the UK as an inclusive place to live and work.

However, Anderson resigned just seven months later, saying: “So many LGBT+ people continue to face violence and discrimination but politics which creates dividing lines between LGB people and trans people will never be my approach.

“Now, more than ever, we need tolerance and respect in our national conversations.”

In a letter addressed to prime minister Boris Johnson, Anderson described being the UK’s “first-ever LGBT+ business champion” as the “honour of my life”, but he was walking away from the role “with a very heavy heart”. 

Anderson declared that “trust and belief” in the UK government’s “overall commitments to LGBT+ rights has been damaged”. He believed a “comprehensive plan” to enable queer people to “play their full part in our society is urgently needed”. 

“There remains an opportunity to show UK global leadership on LGBT+ rights,” he wrote. “I believe this opportunity is being missed.”

Click here to join our new PinkNews Alerts WhatsApp group for daily digests of our top LGBTQ+ news and features.