Summary:

On Wednesday Britain scrapped plans to hold a flagship conference aimed at promoting LGBT+ rights around the world following a massive row over conversion therapy for transgender people.

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From Brexit through to the Partygate scandal, Britain’s posturing prat of a prime minister managed to turn the UK into an international laughing stock—and he’s now landed the country in another pickle over the cancellation of an international LGBT+ conference his own administration organized.

Last year, the Conservative government called on businesses and individuals to sponsor the “Safe To Be Me: A Global Equality Conference” due to take place in London between June 29 to July 1 this year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first official London Pride marches.

In announcing the conference, the government said:

LGBT+ people still face violence and discrimination across the globe. The conference will bring together governments, businesses, civil society and human rights defenders to uphold and protect the fundamental freedoms of LGBT+ people. Together we will share best practice, develop policy, and take action to create a world where it is truly Safe To Be Me. 

Then the whole thing went to hell in a handbasket when the government said its plan to criminalize conversion therapy in England and Wales would not include trans people. This immediately prompted an outpouring of outrage—and a boycott of the conference that forced the government to pull the plug.

According to ITV, one hundred leading charities and organizations pulled out of the conference.

This latest twist came after the government was made to look stupid after it announced that it wouldn’t outlaw conversion therapy, despite promises dating back to 2018. Hours later it did a U-turn, vowing it would ban the revolting practice. However, trans people would not be offered the same protection from mainly faith-based outfits which claim LGBT+ people can be made “straight.”

Image via YouTube

The departure of the groups “makes the conference essentially pointless,” according to ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand, above. He said the situation is “hugely embarrassing for the government”.

Stonewall, Human rights charity ReportOUT, national trans-led charity Gendered Intelligence, and Community activist group House of Guramayle are among those pulling out of the government’s event.

Stonewall said:

Due to the prime minister’s broken promise on protecting trans people from the harms of conversion therapy, we regret that we are withdrawing Stonewall’s support for the UK government’s Safe To Be Me conference. We will only be able to participate if the prime minister reverts to his promise for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.

Image via YouTube

Conservative MP Jamie Wallis, above, who revealed last month that he suffered gender dysphoria, said he was:

Bitterly disappointed at the government’s decision not to include gender identity in the ban on conversion therapy. If the conversion therapy ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise.

Image via GovUK

The government was exposed to further embarrassment when, earlier this week, Britain’s first LGBT+ business champion, Iain Anderson, above, quit his position.

Anderson said he had “no choice” but to tender his resignation with a “heavy heart.”

He had been appointed to focus on workplace equality for LGBT people.

In his resignation letter to Johnson, Anderson called for:

Tolerance and respect. So many LGBT+ people continue to face violence and discrimination, but politics which creates dividing lines between LGB people and trans people will never be my approach. Now—more than ever—we need tolerance and respect in our national conversations.

He added:

Trust and belief in the government’s overall commitment to LGBT+ rights has been damaged. I believe a comprehensive plan to support LGBT+ people to play their full part in our society is urgently needed.

Anderson was appointed in September last year as the UK’s first-ever LGBT+ business champion, with a focus on reducing workplace discrimination.

Johnson said he was saddened by the reaction.

We will have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which to me is utterly abhorrent, but there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender.

Commenting on the cancellation of the conference, a government spokesperson said:

It is disappointing to see partners withdraw from an international conference that focused on the fundamental human rights issues facing LGBT people around the world, and as a result it will not be possible to proceed with the Safe To Be Me Conference.

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell said in a statement:

The Prime Minister has taken a decision to appease transphobes who oppose protection for trans people and who support attempts to turn them cisgender. He’s throwing trans people under the bus. It looks like a bid to stoke trans culture wars for political gain in the run-up to the next election.

Johnson’s government had come under increasing pressure on conversion therapy after his predecessor Theresa May vowed in 2018 to eradicate a procedure that aims to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

A petition calling on the government to”Ensure Trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban,” had, at the time of writing, attracted more than 26,000 signatures.

Don’t laugh, but I have heard a large number of people flippantly suggesting that the prime minister, mired in the Partygate scandal and Britain’s costing of leaving living crisis— had asked Vladimir Putin for help, suggesting he invade some country—any country—to take the heat off of him so he could show the world that, far from being incompetent buffoon who broke Covid lockdown rules, he’s really a very clever geezer who can speak Russian.

Ukhodi v otstavku, smeshnoy malen’kiy chelovek! (Resign now, you ridiculous little man!)

Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of The Freethinker magazine, the second oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W....