Tory leadership frontrunners have supported a full ban on conversion therapy for trans people, the former equalities minister said, as he accused some MPs of “vilifying” the LGBTQ+ community.
Mike Freer said the top candidates vying to be the next Prime Minister had confirmed to him they back outlawing practices intended to change someone’s gender identity, according to Yahoo! News.
In a recent interview on Wednesday night the Finchley and Golders Green MP said: “I’ve spoken to the four front-runners who may lead my party, and they’ve all told me that they support a fully inclusive ban on conversion therapy.”
Earlier this year, the Government outlined plans to outlaw “abhorrent” conversion therapy practices for gay and bisexual people, but it did not cover banning attempts to change someone's gender identity.
Mr. Freer quit as Equalities Minister last week following the Chris Pincher scandal, but said he had also been concerned by the “vilifying” of trans and LGBTQ+ community by some in his party.
“I have spent the last few days thinking did I stay too long, or did I go too soon,” he said.
“There comes a point when you have tried your best to persuade the forces of opposition to change their stance. At which point, you decide you’re banging your head against the wall and also when you see – what I regard – as the forces of opposition, the forces of regression against our community.”
He added that attempts to sign off a fully inclusive conversion therapy ban had fallen on deaf ears.
“When senior colleagues had throwaway comments vilifying the trans community, that was simply not acceptable,” he said.
“Not least because trying to pick a part of our community as a joke is bad enough, but it also unleashed a torrent of abuse. It gave free rein to some of my colleagues who felt it was fair to vilify our community."
“One of the final straws was, as we were having a consensual debate on pride in the main chamber, in Westminster Hall, there was the most awful debate on sex education when one of my colleagues described the 'plus' in the 'LGBT plus' as representing kinks, fetishes, and BDSM. Not only was that factually wrong, but it was deeply offensive.”
He added that all of the “good work that was being done by the people in the equalities team was being lost and obscured by hostility and toxic jokes, making fun of our trans colleagues”.
Trans rights has become a key debate issue for those vying to become the next PM.
Mr. Freer’s comments came shortly after the first round of voting in the contest saw Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat, and Suella Braverman all progress to the second round.
Ms. Badenoch has rallied against gender-neutral toilets, while Ms. Mordaunt has been accused of reversing her stance on trans rights to win over Tory party members.
She has previously told MPs at the House of Commons dispatch box: “Trans men are men and trans women are women.”
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