Boris Johnson’s government has created an “atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people”, a Tory minister has said – as he quit the government in protest.
Mike Freer resigned from his joint role as trade and equalities minister on Wednesday and said he was no longer able to defend government policy on LGBT rights.
He was followed by Peter Gibson, another Conservative MP who has served as a parliamentary private secretary at the department for international trade. Mr Gibson also cited the government’s record on LGBT rights as the reason for his depature.
Mr Freer said in his letter: “I feel that we are moving away from the One Nation Conservative party I joined, not least in creating an atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people and I regret I can no longer defend policies I fundamentally disagree with,” he said.
Mr Gibson spoke of his recent experience marching at Pride, which he said had been “humiliating”.
“On Saturday last week I marched with LGBT+ Conservatives at London Pride. As a gay MP that should have been a liberating, enjoyable experience,” he said.
“Instead, due to the damage our party has inflicted on itself over the failure to include trans people in the ban on conversation therapy, it was a humiliating experience.
It signalled to me the immense damage that has been so needlessly inflicted after years of hard work by many to rebuild the damage of Section 28.
Mr Freer and Mr Gobson are two of over over 30 Tory MPs to leave government jobs in the last 24 hours as the prime minister’s top team goes into meltdown.
The pair’s criticism of government policy comes after the ministers launched a series of culture war policies targeting the LGBT+ community, and particularly trans people.
On Monday equalities minister Kemi Badenoch announced that public buildings would from now on have to have gender-segregated toilets – a policy that was interpreted as a shot across the bow on trans rights.
Ms Badenoch was least year criticised for calling trans women “men” in a leaked recording from 2018.
In recent months the government has also ditched plans to reform gender identity laws proposed under Theresa May.
And ministers have scrapped plans to ban conversion therapy for trans people, causing an outcry. Ministers have also been criticised for giving little attention to trans healthcare needs.
Britain this year fell from 10th to 14th in the the “Rainbow Europe” index ranking countries by how LGBT+ friendly their policies are.