Four most troubling moments from Kemi Badenoch’s Women and Equalities Committee scrutiny

The work of women’s and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch was scrutinised during a combative cross-party committee meeting, which descended into a heated exchange over the idea that being trans is a “disease”. 

Badenoch, who is also the secretary of state for business and trade, appeared alongside the government’s Equality Hub director Marcus Bell. 

A number of LGBTQ+-related topics, including conversion therapy, changes to the definition of “sex” in the 2010 Equality Act, access to gender-affirming care and waiting times for gender clinics, as well as the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), sex-education guidance and policies affecting disabled people, were discussed during the meeting on Wednesday (13 December)

This was the second time Badenoch hs appeared before the committee, previously doing so in March when she was quizzed over the continued lack of a ban on conversion therapy. 

These are the four key moments from Badenoch’s latest appearance.

Trans people are ‘complicating’ conversion therapy ban

One of the first points the committee pulled Badenoch up on was the banning of so-called conversion therapy, more accurately known as conversion practices. 

A ban has been promised by the Conservative government since Theresa May’s premiership in 2018, but three prime ministers and many U-turns later, legislation has still not been brought forward. This has resulted in backbench MPs even filing a private members’ bill in an attempt to get the government to move on the issue. 

The reason for the delay was “issues” around defining gender identity for the purposes of bringing in trans-inclusive legislation and making both “well-defined” and “prosecutable”, Badenoch said.

“If we want to ban the T in terms of conversion practices, how do we define that? That is not something that is defined in law, it is very, very difficult to do,” she told committee chairwoman Caroline Nokes. 

The bill would have already come out and is likely to have been passed in parliament if “we were just doing LGB”, the minister added.

“The T is what has made it very complicated. Gender identity and sexuality are wholly different. The fluidity with which people define gender identity, for instance people who say that they are non-binary, how do you define an identity that can change. How do you convert something [that is] in it, and of itself, fluid?” she asked. 

“There is a lot around that that needs looking at.” 

Fellow Tory MP Elliot Colburn questioned whether Badenoch was able to provide a timescale of when the legislation will be published.

Given that the full findings of the Cass review, an independent analysis commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to make recommendations on the services provided to children and young people who are exploring their gender identity or experiencing gender incongruence, have not yet been released – and which Badenoch is keen to utilise in the legislation – no date was forthcoming. 

Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee. (GOV)

Badenoch throws support behind ‘transing away the gay‘ myth

During the hearing, Badenoch claimed there was a “lot of evidence” that gay children are being “told” they are trans and “put on a medical pathway”. 

This notion has been gaining increasing traction among anti-trans figures, with groups such as Sex Matters labelling gender-affirming care a “modern” conversion therapy. 

At the beginning of December, Alba Party leader at Westminster Neale Hanvey echoed these views when he stated during a debate on conversion therapy that the “true scandal” is the “medical and surgical conversion of young lesbians and gay males by affirming and transing away the gay”.  

He claimed LGBTQ+ organisations such as Stonewall are “erasing gay identities and are complicit in using the T to erase the LGB”. 

Badenoch went on to say that gender clinics have seen an “explosion” in referrals in recent years and that is why they are unable to cope and have extremely long waiting lists. 

She denied ever calling the situation an “epidemic” and instead said she described it as “almost an epidemic”.

Badenoch added: “A lot of what we are seeing are co-morbidities where there is sexual orientation, confusion, autism, perhaps other issues happening at home. When these things seem to collide, we see a spike in terms of referrals and we have to be careful that those children – if the issue is autism, sexual orientation – are not put on a pathway that will make them take decisions that cannot be reversed.” 

With regard to the evidence Badenoch cited, Nokes asked if the Equality Hub has been collecting data in this area, particularly relating to “natal females” and those with autism, and over what period of time. 

Badenoch said such data will be answered in the Cass Review and there is no need for the Equality Hub to duplicate the data.

Predators are ‘exploiting’ laws made for trans people

As part of discussions about the definition of the protected characteristic of “sex” in the Equality Act, on which the government sought advice from the EHRC, Badenoch said sexual predators were “exploiting” laws aimed at trans people. 

Earlier in the year, the equalities watchdog was asked by Badenoch for advice on changing the Equality Act to amend the definition of sex to “biological sex”. The EHRC said such an update could provide “greater legal clarity” around single-sex spaces but equally could create “ambiguous or disadvantageous” issues, such as in terms of equal pay claims. 

“For many years, many transgender people were living their lives peacefully, nobody had an issue,” the minister told the committee. “It wasn’t until predators started exploiting the loopholes that we are having to tighten this.

“It is the behaviour of people who are choosing to exploit rights given to transgender people, because the definition is very loose, that we are now having to look at what we can do to protect women and children who are the most vulnerable in those single-sex spaces.

“It is not easy. The ideal situation would have been if the predators had not chosen to exploit this loophole.

“I have to be clear that I’m not saying that transgender people are predators, but there are more people who are predators than there are people who are trans.

“We need to think very carefully about how we draft legislation to protect all the people, whether it is transgender people, women and children, those who need single-sex spaces. 

“It is not an easy thing to do but that is what I’m working on.”


On Wednesday (13 December) there was a heated exchange between the Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch and Labour MP Kate Osbourne. Osbourne accused Badenoch of using “inflammatory language that likens children and young people coming out as trans to the spread of a disease”. The Minister accused the MP of “lying”, adding that she “never said that”. The exchange continue throughout the select committee meeting, with Osbourne referencing a quote made by Badenoch last week in which she said: “we are seeing I would say almost an epidemic of young gay children being told that they are trans and being put on a medical pathway for irreversible decisions and regretting what they have done”. “You used the word epidemic which means disease”, the Labour MP said. The Minister accused her of “putting words in my mouth”. What followed was an argument about dictionaries. For those interested the Oxford Languages definition of “epidemic” is “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time”. #kemibadenoch #kateosbourne #transrights #trans #ukpolitics #lgbtnews

♬ original sound – PinkNews 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

Badenoch and Osborne butt heads over ‘inflammatory language’ 

During a question about trans hate crime rates, Labour MP Kate Osborne cited Badenoch’s use of the phrase “epidemic” in relation to trans youth figures, saying it was directly causing an increase

Badenoch responded that she fundamentally disagreed with that viewpoint. 

Osborne hit back, accusing the minister of using “inflammatory language that likens children and young people coming out as trans to the spread of a disease”. 

Badenoch repleid: “I have never said that, that is a lie. You are lying.”

Nokes was tehn forced to interrupt, telling Badenoch such language was “unparliamentary”. 

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