What does the Conservative manifesto say on LGBTQ+ issues?

The Conservative Party’s 2024 general election manifesto has been published, and contains pledges around LGBTQ+ issues.

The Tories have vowed to secure a “strong economy,” deliver “young people’s future,” and lay out a “clear plan”, if they win the election on 4 July.

“We are restoring our economic stability after [COVID-19] and Ukraine,” Rishi Sunak wrote in a foreword. “Inflation is down, real wages are up, growth has returned and we are cutting taxes to give working people financial security.

“This did not happen by accident. The economy is turning a corner because we built strong economic foundations before the pandemic and we have stuck to our plan. We have that plan and the courage to take bold steps necessary to build a secure future for you and your family.”

As expected, several of the pledges don’t seem to secure much of a future if you’re transgender, non-binary, or intersex.

Despite saying they are proud of their “record on delivering for LGBT people,” the Conservatives are now promising a range of policies that would either have indirect ramifications for the queer community – particularly transgender men and women – or rescind their rights completely.

What does the Conservative manifesto say on equality and LGBTQ+ issues?

The section on sex and gender equality starts with an attack on trans people, by claiming that “biological sex is a reality” and that the “majority” of UK citizens agree with this. No evidence is provided for this statement.

The Tories argue that the 2010 Equality Act has “not kept pace” since becoming law, and needs to be updated for “evolving interpretations.”

Those interpretations are primarily definitions that would rescind the rights of trans and non-binary people, including a promise to change the definition of sex in the legislation to mean biological sex – a pledge made by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch last year.

Kemi Badenoch walking past Number 10 Downing Street.
Kemi Badenoch vowed to change the wording in the Equalities Act. (Getty)

The manifesto also vows to implement further laws that would effectively deny non-binary people the right to have their gender identity legally recognised, by codifying that an individual can “only have one sex in the eyes of the law”.

It goes on to promise legislation that would force teachers in the UK to follow guidance recently published by the government which effectively bans any discussion of gender identity in schools and forcibly out any students who are questioning their gender.

The section on protections around sex and gender finishes with the claim that Conservatives believe “no one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are”, before justifying the continued lack of progress towards a ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, saying it is a “complex issue”.

The NHS, healthcare and the Cass Report

In a section around healthcare and the NHS, the Tory manifesto focuses on completing the implementation of the Cass Report’s recommendations.

The findings, released earlier this year, came with upwards of 32 recommendations, on top of those made in an interim report in 2020, including the closure of the Tavistock trans youth clinic in favour of regional hubs across England.

Preliminary reports following the opening of several of the hubs included warnings from staff that they were “nowhere near ready” because of a lack of experience among newer employees, and “messy” processes that are unfit for purpose.

The Conservatives promise to “complete” the work by “ensuring that NHS services follow evidence-based best practice”.

A sign outside of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which houses England's only trans youth clinic. The sign reads "The Tavistock Centre" along with an address and notices about CCTV.
The Tavistock closed earlier this year. (Getty)

The manifesto goes on to say: “We have already stopped the routine use by the NHS of puberty blockers for gender dysphoria and will legislate to permanently prevent their private prescription and supply.”

After pledging to effectively cut off a tried-and-tested means of combatting gender dysphoria for under-18s, the Tories then move on to promises which include amending the NHS constitution to ban trans people from wards that correspond with their gender identity.

The manifesto also vows to “not allow the word ‘woman’ to be erased by health services” by banning words such as “chest-feeding” and “birthing parent”.

What about other LGBTQ+ issues?

The only section of the manifesto that acknowledges LGBTQ+ people makes no pledges, but instead mentions that the Tories passed the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act and delivered the largest national roll out of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Europe.

The Marriage (Same-sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013 while the Conservatives were in coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. A majority of Conservative MPs voted against the legislation.

Please login or register to comment on this story.