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What will new British PM Liz Truss do on LGBTQ+ issues?

by Lucy Middleton | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 5 September 2022 15:59 GMT

Liz Truss gestures outside the Conservative Party headquarters, after being announced as Britain's next Prime Minister, in London, Britain September 5, 2022. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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Liz Truss has been named as Britain's new prime minister, replacing Boris Johnson. Here's a look at her stand on LGBTQ+ issues

By Lucy Middleton

LONDON, Sept 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Liz Truss will become Britain's new prime minister on Tuesday after beating rival Rishi Sunak in a Conservative Party leadership race that saw hot debate on LGBTQ+ issues, particularly transgender rights.

Here's what we know about her stance on LGBTQ+ rights:

What is her voting record on LGBTQ+ rights?

Truss became an MP in 2010 and voted in favour of gay marriage when the law was passed in 2013, with a further nod for same-sex marriage among members of Britain's armed forces a year later.

According to TheyWorkForYou, a website that tracks lawmakers' voting records, she was absent – during her time as foreign secretary – for two votes on LGBTQ+ issues, but has never voted against LGBTQ+ rights.

What about her stance on trans issues?

As equalities minister, Truss oversaw a government decision to exclude trans people from a planned ban on conversion therapy - practices that seek to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity - a step that angered LGBTQ+ groups.

While she did slash the cost of applying for a gender recognition certificate, she also scrapped proposals to allow for gender "self-identification", which would let trans people change their gender on official documents without having to go through a medical approval process.

LGBTQ+ campaigners say Britain's current self-ID process is too cumbersome, while opponents argue that self-ID would allow predatory men to easily access women-only spaces such as toilets or changing rooms.

When asked last month whether trans women are women, Truss said no.

"I improved the process for gender recognition to make it simpler and kinder, but I was very clear ... under-18s shouldn't be able to make irreversible decisions about their own future," she added in comments at the campaign event.

Some campaigners have also criticised Truss for failing to set up a new LGBTQ+ advisory panel after she scrapped the previous one, created by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.

How have LGBTQ+ organisations reacted?

Leading LGBTQ+ groups called on Truss to address gaps in healthcare for trans people and broaden the conversion therapy ban to include them.

"The next government urgently needs to reframe trans healthcare as a public health issue in dire need of funding, specialist resources and expertise," said a spokesperson for Mermaids, a British charity for trans youth.

"Years of government inaction has culminated in a crisis point for the UK's gender-diverse community. Trans people deserve the freedom to be ourselves as much as the next person."

At Stonewall, Chief Executive Nancy Kelley urged Truss to deliver "on the commitment she made as Women and Equalities Minister to ban conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people".

"This is a time for leadership, and we hope that our new Prime Minister will stand up for a world in which all LGBTQ+ people can live our lives to the full," Kelley added in a statement.

This article was updated on Sept. 5 2022 after Truss was named Prime Minister.

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