Ron DeSantis says Kemi Badenoch is ‘committed’ to following in Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ footsteps

Ron DeSantis and Kemi Badenoch

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has shed light on Tory minister Kemi Badenoch’s ‘anti-woke’ mission, revealing that Badenoch “committed” to following Florida’s lead in UK.

DeSantis spent Friday (28 April) in the UK on the last leg of his four-country tour of Japan, Israel and South Korea, as part of an effort to boost his profile as a Republican presidential hopeful. 

In London, DeSantis met with Conservative foreign secretary James Cleverly and business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch, who also holds the title of minister for women and equalities. 

As part of his flying UK visit, he also headlined a private, high-profile event co-hosted with Lloyd’s of London, where he delivered a speech to business chiefs that was dubbed “horrendous” and “low-wattage” by attendees. 

In an interview with The Telegraph, published on Sunday (30 April), the right-wing Florida governor indulged in a bizarre rant about “woke ideology” and claimed that Badenoch not only “complimented what we are doing in Florida” but is “committed” to doing the same in Britain. 

“Woke ideology undermines merit and achievement. It is really a war on the truth,” DeSantis told The Telegraph. “When institutions get infected by woke ideology, it really corrupts the institutions.

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“We look at woke infiltrating schools as a problem, woke infiltrating bureaucracies as a problem and woke infiltrating corporate America as a problem. We say that Florida is where woke goes to die. 

“At the end of the day you cannot have a successful society if it is being operated by woke ideology. It is fundamentally at odds with reality and facts and truths, and ultimately a society needs to be grounded in truth.”

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At no point in the interview did DeSantis define what he meant by “woke ideology”. 

The Florida governor is known for his support for extreme anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including the state’s expanded ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which bans discussion of LGBTQ+ issues across all school grades. 

LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida described the Don’t Say Gay expansion as an “insatiable” “lust for government censorship”. 

Florida has also presided over a number of repressive book bans, targeting LGBTQ+ literature, including the novels of Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman. The state’s sweeping book bans inspired a 100-year-old grandmother to speak out in March, comparing Florida censorship to book burnings in Nazi Germany. 

The Republican state has also enacted some of the most radical anti-choice legislation in the US since the overturning of Roe v Wade, with abortion banned after six weeks of gestation – a period when many people do not even know that they are pregnant. Survivors of rape, incest and human trafficking are forced to show ‘proof’ of their abuse in order to receive an abortion up to 15 weeks. 

Regarding his meeting with Tory minister for women and equalities, Kemi Badenoch, DeSantis told The Telegraph: “She complimented what we are doing in Florida. She committed that it is what they are trying to do in Britain.

“She pointed out, and I think it’s true, that some of the woke has been exported from the United States.

“I commend her and her efforts to make sure that this is not corrupting British society.” 

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The claim that Badenoch seeks to replicate Florida’s hateful agenda in the UK is deeply concerning for the LGBTQ+ community and families with LGBTQ+ children. Badenoch, far from being a fringe voice in the Conservative Party, holds two ministerial positions in prime minister Rishi Sunak’s government. 

Her appointment as minister for women and equalities in October 2022 left activists “deeply fearful for the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in Britain”. In 2021, she embarked on an anti-LGBTQ+ rant in an explosive leaked audio recording, questioning same-sex marriage and calling trans women “men”. 

January of this year saw Badenoch appoint anti-trans, ex-GB News host and JK Rowling fan Mercy Muroki to advise on gender policy. 

It comes after Sunak committed to releasing new guidance for schools in the coming months, that will see teachers forced to ‘out’ trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming pupils to their parents, and ban trans children from using changing and shower facilities that align with gender identity.

It will also bar trans pupils from taking part in certain sports teams, with a Tory source telling The Sun on Saturday (29 April) that “in sports like rugby, it would be dangerous and unfair [to allow trans girls on girls’ teams] as biological boys are bigger and stronger.”

Far from the US “exporting” wokeness to the UK, DeSantis is suggesting that Badenoch takes her cues from homophobic and transphobic legislative extremists across the Atlantic.

PinkNews has contacted Kemi Badenoch for comment. 

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