Caroline Nokes hits out at Suella Braverman’s ‘hugely problematic’ anti-trans comments

Caroline Nokes pictured at the PinkNews Awards 2023.

Tory MP Caroline Nokes has condemned Suella Braverman’s “hugely problematic” comments about trans women on hospital wards.

Speaking backstage at the PinkNews Awards in London, Nokes – who is chair of parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee – spoke out against the government’s plans to ban trans women from female-only hospital wards.

When the plans were announced at the Tory Party Conference in early October, home secretary Suella Braverman faced furious backlash when she claimed that trans women “have no place in women’s wards”.

When asked about Braverman’s comments, Nokes told PinkNews: “I think this is hugely problematic.”

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Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton as well as chair of parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, joined us on the pink carpet at the 2023 PinkNews Awards where she shared her opinion on the recent calls by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, to exclude trans women from women’s hospital wards. #pinknewsawards #carolinenokes #toryparty #transrightsarehumanrights #suellabraverman #conservativepartyuk

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She added: “The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is there for a reason – it’s there to protect trans people, it’s there to give them their rights.

“And what really worries me is that a woman with a Gender Recognition Certificate, with documentation that says she is a woman, will then be forced onto a male ward – and of course vice versa, a trans man with a Gender Recognition Certificate will find themselves on a female only ward.

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“To me this is absolutely undermining the whole principle behind the GRA and it is going to lead to confusion, to fear, and I have had so many trans people contact me and say, I now dare not get ill in this country.

“We can do better than that.”

Caroline Nokes calls for ‘inclusive’ conversion therapy ban

Nokes also criticised the government for its ongoing failure to ban conversion therapy. Theresa May’s government first pledged to outlaw the pseudoscientific practice in 2018, but legislation has never materialised, with successive prime ministers flip-flopping on the issue.

Speaking to PinkNews, Nokes said she agreed with former prime minister Boris Johnson when he described conversion therapy as “abhorrent”.

“He was right. It is abhorrent. And if it is abhorrent, it’s abhorrent for everyone, and that’s why we have to have a conversion therapy ban and it has to be an inclusive ban.

“I am really angry and disappointed that the government hasn’t made this a priority yet all these years after it was promised.”

Caroline Nokes MP at the PinkNews Awards 2023
Caroline Nokes MP at the PinkNews Awards 2023. (PinkNews)

Nokes’ comments come after a turbulent few weeks for the UK’s increasingly embattled LGBTQ+ community. In particular, the trans community has faced a number of attacks from government, with ministers using the party’s conference in Manchester to mock and degrade vulnerable trans people.

The first major blow from the Conservative Party Conference came when health secretary Steve Barclay announced that he wants to stop trans women from being cared for on single-sex wards in NHS hospitals.

Shortly afterwards, Braverman spoke out on the issue, referring to trans women as “biological men” in a barbed statement that was roundly condemned by LGBTQ+ activists.

The Tories’ conference came to a close with a speech from prime minister Rishi Sunak in which he said the British public was being “bullied” into believing that “people can be any sex they want to be”.

Legal experts later told PinkNews that plans to ban trans women from hospital wards were “unlawful”, while others pointed out that most people are already cared for on mixed-sex wards in NHS hospitals.

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