Liz Truss admits ‘fundamental disagreements’ between her and LGBT panel members before it was disbanded

‘Members of the panel supported self-ID for gender recognition certificates,’ says cabinet minister

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 25 May 2021 16:45
Today's daily politics briefing

Cabinet minister Liz Truss has admitted there were “fundamental disagreements” with the government’s LGBT+ panel before the decision was taken to disband the group last month.

The minister for women and equalities told MPs there was a “difference of opinion” on the issue of the Gender Recognition Act, with members of the panel supporting self-identification for gender recognition.

Last year, the government axed plans signalled by Theresa May’s government to reform the legislation, allowing people to change gender without a medical diagnosis, favouring  “proper checks and balances”.

Former members of the LGBT+ panel, which was disbanded in April, have since criticised the ministers in the equality office of creating a “hostile environment” for the minority in Britain.

Questioned at a Commons committee on the comments, Ms Truss said the panel was appointed by the “previous government”, reiterating the department’s explanation given last month that their terms were “time limited”.

But she added: “Of course we’re grateful for the contribution they made, but I think there were fundamental disagreements, namely members of the panel supported self-ID for gender recognition certificates.

“I very strongly feel as I made clear there need to be checks and balances. I think the issue here is fundamentally a difference of opinion on that issue.”

The LGBT+ panel had also hit out at government delays to banning the discredited practice of “conversion therapy”, which seeks to suppress an individual’s sexuality or gender indignity.

Ministers committed again at the Queen’s Speech earlier this month to introduce a ban — three years after it was first promised — but are first consulting on the issue, with the terms of reference expected to be published in September. Legislation is not expected until the following year.

Quizzed on whether the government intended to honour the commitments laid out in the 2018 LGBT Action Plan — produced by Theresa May’s government — Ms Truss also swerved the question, saying: “We set our plan for LGBT advancement of rights.

“We also in the Queen’s Speech announced that we will be legislating to ban conversion therapy in this country and we’re also working with business to make sure there is good support for LGBT people in business, particularly small businesses. Those are the priorities as I’ve set them out.”

She added the government would be appointing a new LGBT panel in “due course” to support the priorities.

Part of the LGBT action plan also committed to “provide annual updates” to the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee “explaining our progress against this plan”, adding: “Parliament can hold us to our word that we will defend, extend and promote the rights and freedoms of LGBT people”.

Pressed on why the government had not provided an update to the committee, the minister replied: “It’s probably because there’s a new government in place under the leadership of Boris Johnson.”

“What I’m saying is that was set out by the previous administration. I have laid out what our priorities are. The prime minister made clear in the Queen’s Speech that we are moving forward on banning conversion therapy, on the LGBT conference, these are our priorities.”

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