Gay Tory MP urges party to stop ‘fighting’ LGBTQ+ community and ‘demonising’ trans people

Tory MP for Carshalton and Wallington Elliot Colburn.

Gay Tory MP Elliot Colburn has urged prime minister Rishi Sunak to stop “fighting” the LGBTQ+ community and “demonising” trans people if the party wants to win the next general election.

On Monday (2 October), at a fringe event during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Elliot Colburn said the Conservatives have to “drop this hardcore rhetoric and we have to drop it now”.

The MP’s warning comes amid the government’s continued failing of the LGBTQ+ community, with Suella Braverman being condemned recently for her “deeply disturbing” comments about LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, which sparked protests in London.

Colburn, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, in Greater London, said: “I want to make one thing perfectly clear to our Conservative colleagues: we will not win the next general election fighting with the LGBT+ community. 

“I do not meet people on the doorstep who say: ‘You know what, I am struggling with the cost of living right now, my mortgage has gone up, I am worried about heating this winter, but I will forget all of that, as long as you stop trans people playing sport’. No one is saying that to me,” he added, according to the Huffington Post.

The next UK general election will take place no later than 28 January 2025.

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At a drinks reception hosted by the Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK-based charity focused on fighting for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people across the commonwealth and beyond, Colburn urged party colleagues to drop their hateful rhetoric. 

Rishi Sunak speaking at a conference.
Rishi Sunak. (Getty)

The MP, who in 2021 revealed he was sent a homophobic letter, said the party had come a long way since Section 28, which “we have rightly apologised for”. 

Section 28 banned what the Tories called the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by schools and local authorities. The law was introduced under Margaret Thatcher in 1988 and was ultimately repealed in 2003.

In 2009, shortly before becoming prime minister, David Cameron issued an apology for the harm the legislation had caused, but its implications are still felt, with teaching around LGBTQ+ issues still a taboo topic in many schools.

“We have to drop this hardcore rhetoric and we have to drop it now. We need to stop demonising trans people. We need to stop fighting with the LGBT+ community,” Colburn said.

“We need to get back to that centre-ground and understand we are going to win the next election based on our values and on the economy, not by making a problem that doesn’t exist.”

His comments follow the government continuing to delay publishing guidance for schools on how they engage with trans pupils – guidance which is reportedly in breach of the 2010 Equality Act in its current form. 

The Conservatives have also been accused of dragging their feet on the outlawing of conversion therapy, with shadow equalities minister Anneliese Dodds recently accusing the government of ‘betrayal’ after reports suggested Sunak is set to make scrap the long-proposed ban.