Prime minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of “demonising” the transgender community after a video emerged in which he said that women “clearly” had penises.
He reportedly made the comments while attending a gathering of the 1922 Committee of Conservative Party back-benchers on 5 June this year.
“Over the same period of time, you might have noticed Ed Davey has been very busy,” Mr Sunak can be heard saying in the clip after appearing to criticise Labour’s energy policy.
“Like me, you can probably see that he was trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises,” he adds to laughter among those present. “You’ll all know that I’m a big fan of everybody studying maths to 18, but it turns out that we need to focus on biology.”
Human rights and trans campaigners reacted furiously to the video, with one MP describing it as “vacuous and nasty”.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said the video showed the “real” Mr Sunak.
“Well, it is the real Rishi Sunak exposed,” he told LBC Radio. “He has tried to portray himself as serious politician - a statesman who’s got the government back on track but this video has revealed him to be a rather petty man.”
John Nicolson, the SNP for Ochil & South Perthshire, said: “Both vacuous and nasty. How repulsive they are with their sneering and bullying.”
And an anonymous senior Tory MP told PinkNews: “It is profoundly depressing – this whole ‘othering’ of minorities – pretty much any minority.
“Without stopping to think we have equalities legislation for a reason, to stop discrimination against anyone with a protected characteristic – we should be trying to understand and support, not belittle and demonise.”
The video surfaced as the government prepares to publish its long-awaited guidance to schools on sex and gender.
The proposals, due to be published this week, will include plans to ban schools from allowing pupils to use different pronouns if their parents are opposed to then doing so.
Mr Sunak has made several interventions into the debate on trans rights and earlier this year said that “100 per cent” of women do not have a penis after Labour leader Keir Starmer said “99 per cent” did not.
Mr Davey has previously said the vast majority of people will have the same gender as their biological sex but that “a small number won’t”.
Responding to the video, the PM’s official spokesperson said he has talked before about his “compassion and understanding for people questioning their identity and that they should be treated with dignity and respect.”
The spokesperson added: “On this specific issue, these are points he’s made in interviews publicly, with Piers Morgan, with ConservativeHome. Obviously, I can’t get into the political aspects of that, but he’s made the same broader point in interviews.”
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