At least 100 groups, including approximately 80 LGBTQ+ organisations, are boycotting a UK Government event as an expression of solidarity with the Trans community. The ‘Safe To Be Me’ event was labelled as a landmark first global LGBTQ+ conference in the UK, but now may be cancelled due to the mass protest.
Scheduled to take place from June 27-29 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first official Pride marches in London, the conference aimed to “tackle inequality about the world and urge countries to take action.”
The boycott was launched following the announcement that Transgender people would not be included in a proposed upcoming ban on conversion therapy in the UK. It was first reported that Boris Johnson had scrapped the ban entirely, but following backlash, Downing Street stated that they would be proceeding with the legislation, however it would only apply to conversion therapy that aims to change a person’s sexuality.
The LGBT+ Consortium, an umbrella body for LGBTQ+ voluntary and community organisation in the UK, issued a statement regarding the protest, reading: “The UK Government’s plans to scrap legislation outlawing conversion practices were abhorrent. What made the situation worse was a quick U-turn that actively excluded our trans siblings, and we refuse to stand by and let this happen.
“Trans rights are human rights and we stand shoulder to shoulder with every trans organisation and every trans person on this matter,” it continued.
“A ban that excludes Trans people is unacceptable and we as an LGBT+ sector must have our voices heard on this matter and stand as one in solidarity.”
As the UK LGBT+ umbrella body, we wholeheartedly back @StonewallUK’s decision to withdraw support for the UK Government-led Safe To Be Me conference. Read our statement here: https://t.co/hmdA2hXrDz #NotSafeToBeMe #TransRightsAreHumanRights #BanConversionTherapy pic.twitter.com/dm7mBapQ34
— Consortium (@LGBTConsortium) April 4, 2022
Northern Ireland’s Rainbow Project is one of the groups partaking in the protest, saying that the Government’s “procrastination, mixed messaging and failure to commit to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our community leave us no option but to boycott this event.”
Tory politician Jamie Wallis, who last week became the UK’s first openly Trans MP, expressed that he was “bitterly disappointed” about the exclusion of Transgender people from the conversion therapy ban.
“It is wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as ‘abhorrent’. If the CT [conversion therapy] ban passes through parliament without any protections for the transgender community, it cannot be described as anything other than a broken promise,” he continued.
1/ I’m bitterly disappointed at the Government’s decision not to include gender identity in the ban on conversion therapy. Many have asked what my thoughts are. I’ve always believed that this debate attracts unnecessary hysteria and toxicity, and…
— Jamie Wallis MP (@JamieWallisMP) April 4, 2022
A Government spokesperson said it was “disappointing” to see so many LGBTQ+ groups withdraw from the UK conference, adding that they are now “considering how to proceed”.
They also stated that the Prime Minister has “made the point emphatically that people who want to make a transition in their lives should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect, but the complexity of issues requires separate work to further consider transgender conversion therapy”.
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