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Labour former minister says he does not feel safe as a gay man in the UK anymore

Sir Chris Bryant said rhetoric used by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch in the Commons had contributed to his safety concerns.

Rhiannon James
Thursday 07 December 2023 08:25 GMT
Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant outside the Houses of Parliament (Yui Mok/PA)
Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant outside the Houses of Parliament (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

A Labour former minister has said he does not feel safe as a gay man in the UK anymore.

Sir Chris Bryant said rhetoric used by equalities minister Kemi Badenoch in the Commons had contributed to his safety concerns.

Speaking after the women and equalities minister gave a statement on gender recognition reforms, Sir Chris said: “I feel today, as a gay man, less safe than I did three years or five years ago.

“Why? Sometimes because the rhetoric that is used, including by herself (Ms Badenoch), in the public debate.”

The MP for Rhondda added: “Many of us feel less safe today and when people over there cheer as they just did, it chills me to the bone, it genuinely does.”

Sir Chris also asked what the minister had done since being in power to make more countries recognise same sex civil partnerships and marriages.

In response, Ms Badenoch said: “He says that my rhetoric chills him to the bone, I would be really keen to hear exactly what it is I have said in this statement or previously that is so chilling.”

Conservative former minister Sir Conor Burns later sought to counter suggestions that life was becoming worse for gay people.

The Bournemouth West MP said: “Could I invite her to agree with me that despite some of the rhetoric that we have heard in the House today, the United Kingdom is an immeasurably better place to grow up as a gay person than it was in decades gone by?”

Ms Badenoch commended the Tory MP’s “measured tone”, adding: “It is a model I think for members on the other side of the House. There is so much that we have done even under this specific Government, even under my watch.

“A lot of the work we have been doing around our HIV action plan, around trans healthcare. We have established five new community-based clinics for adults in the country.

“There is a lot that we are doing, so it is wrong to characterise us as not caring about LGBT people.

“It also sends the wrong signal to our international partners. If they feel that we are doing well, it is not because of what we are doing, it is what members across the House are saying.”

SNP equalities spokesperson Kirsten Oswald meanwhile told the Commons the Conservatives “seem much more interested in culture wars than looking after the rights of some of the most vulnerable”.

The MP for East Renfrewshire added: “The UK is travelling rapidly backwards on the rights of LGBT people and that this decision is very much out of step with other progressive countries around the world.”

Ms Oswald also accused the Government of being “missing in action” in regards to banning conversion therapy.

Meanwhile, Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) said Ms Badenoch was “attacking transgender people” by introducing the new measures.

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