Rishi Sunak told to take a leaf out of Justin Trudeau’s book and champion LGBTQ+ rights at G7 summit

Rishi Sunak Justin Trudeau G7 Summit

British prime minister Rishi Sunak has been called upon by Stonewall to follow Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s lead in “championing LGBTQ+ equality” at the G7 summit.

Britain’s leading LGBTQ+ charity told PinkNews that it’s time for the UK to “reclaim its global leadership” on LGBTQ+ rights, but warned that to do this, the government must “end the harmful anti-trans culture wars”.

The G7 summit is an international forum held every year for the leaders of the G7 member states – the US, France, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy and Japan. Leaders of the seven countries, along with a representative from the EU, come together to discuss and coordinate global policy. 

This year’s summit – the 49th event – is held in Hiroshima, Japan, and runs from 19 to 21 May. 

On Thursday (18 May), Canadian PM Trudeau led the way by calling out the Italian government’s position on LGBTQ+ rights. During a bilateral meeting with Italy’s far-right prime minister Giorgia Meloni, Trudeau told her that Canada is “concerned” about the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance.

Global News reported that before media representatives were ushered from the room, Trudeau said: “Obviously, Canada is concerned about some of the (positions) that Italy is taking in terms of LGBT rights. But I look forward to talking with you about that.”

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Since Meloni, who has strong links to fascism, came to power in October 2022, Italy has taken a step back when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, with the prime minister vowing to combat what she refers to as the “LGBT lobby” and “gender ideology”. 

In March, the Italian government told Milan’s city council to stop automatically registering the children of same-sex parents, and introduced a bill to parliament that aims to criminalise couples who go abroad to have a baby via surrogacy. The bill has been criticised as an attack on LGBTQ+ couples. 

Surrogate pregnancies are currently illegal in Italy, and although the country legalised same-sex unions in 2016, same-sex couples do not have adoption rights. 

In a summary on Trudeau and Meloni’s meeting provided by the prime ministerial office of Trudeau, it stated that the leaders “exchanged views on the importance of protecting and defending human rights, including the rights of 2SLGBTQI+ people”.

“Prime minister Meloni responded that her government is following court decisions and is not deviating from previous administrations.”

Now, Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, has urged Rishi Sunak to take a leaf out of Trudeau’s book and “champion LGBTQ+ equality through your G7 engagement”.

Joe Biden talks to Fumio Kishida as they walk with Rishi Sunak, Olaf Scholz, Ursula von der Leyen and Justin Trudeau to take part in a wreath laying ceremony as part of the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima on 19 May. (KENNY HOLSTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Japan is the only country in the G7 that does not recognise same-sex marriage, and Japanse PM Fumio Kishida came under renewed pressure to take crucial steps toward equal rights for LGBTQ+ people as his country prepared to host the high-profile international summit. 

Following Japan’s main opposition party submitting a bill calling for same-sex marriage to be legalised in March, Tokyo Pride saw a colourful and joyous turnout that was characterised by the country’s LGBTQ+ community committing to ‘fight’ for equal marriage. It was the first time the march had taken place since 2019.

In a letter to Britain’s prime minister on Friday (19 May), Kelley wrote: “Japan is the only country in the G7 to not allow same-sex marriage and to have anti-discrimination laws in place.

“Japanese LGBTQ+ groups have long campaigned for the legal recognition and protections that we have enjoyed in the UK for many years. 

“They see the G7 as an important moment for close partners to encourage the Japanese Government to make faster progress on these two issues,” the letter continued.

“On behalf of our partners in Japan, we urge you to champion LGBTQ+ equality through your G7 engagement. 

“The UK’s Equality Act and marriage equality legislation is world-class, and we should be proud to advocate on a global stage.”

Stonewall’s director of external affairs, Robbie de Santos, told PinkNews that the UK has the “power” to “showcase our world-class anti-discrimination laws and set an example”.

Santos said: “The UK, once a champion for LGBTQ+ rights, must reclaim its global leadership. We have the power to showcase our world-class anti-discrimination laws and set an example.

“Prime minister Rishi Sunak now holds the key to genuine leadership, an opportunity to stand alongside global counterparts and champion LGBTQ+ equality among the G7 countries.

“Recent steps backwards by countries like Italy, and the absence of anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage framework in Japan, only highlights the urgency.

“However, we need to acknowledge, this can only be achieved by fulfilling our commitments to the people of the UK: banning conversion practices, supporting the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, and ending the harmful anti-trans culture wars.”