Boris Johnson has been confirming roles for his cabinet, but what are their views on LGBTQ rights?
When any Prime Minister is elected, one of their first jobs is deciding their cabinet, and whose is in charge of what positions.
These Secretaries of States will have a range of duties, some of which will impact the lives of LGBTQ citizens, which is slightly alarming given that there aren’t any openly LGBTQ politicians in the cabinet, but plenty of those who have opposed LGBTQ-rights. Most of Johnson’s appointees are from the 2010 intake, with some even coming from a 2014 by-election and the 2017 General Election.
Some have a mixed voting record when it comes to their stances on LGBTQ rights, but here is the new-look cabinet, and where they stand on LGBTQ issues.
Role: Prime Minister
Constituency: Uxbridge and South Ruislip (since 2015); previously Henley (2001-2008)
As Prime Minister, Boris is in charge of all of our lives, and could be either a danger or an asset. When speaking, Boris is known for saying and writing homophobic things. In 1998 he referred to gay men as ‘tank-topped bumboys’, a comment he attempted to defend as satire, and wrote in 2001 that if gay marriage was OK, he saw “no reason” that marriage shouldn’t be allowed between “three men and a dog.”
He has refused to apologise for any of these comments, on top of a myriad of racist and misogynistic comments.
In office, however, Boris does typically vote for LGBTQ rights. Although he wasn’t an MP when same-sex marriage was discussed, he did back civil partnerships, and voted in favour of repealing Section 28. At a hustings event, he spoke in favour of LGBTQ-inclusive education, although he didn’t speak as passionately as his then rival Jeremy Hunt on the issue.
“Schools should be asked to reflect the world as it is and, to be reasonable, that’s the way things are now,” he said.
However, he was absent when it came to issues surrounding trans rights, same-sex adoptions and the Equality Act.
Role: Chancellor of the Exchequer
Constituency: Bromsgrove (since 2010)
Javid was moved to Chancellor following a stint at the Home Office. Javid voted in favour of marriage equality, although he wasn’t present on follow-up votes dealing with the armed forces and divorce proceedings. However, for the most part Javid hasn’t publicly spoken out on LGBTQ issues, bar a speech at the 2018 PinkNews Awards.
During the speech, he urged everyone to take part in a Gender Recognition Act consultation. He said: “We are taking some really positive steps forward. And I think the more people who take part in consultations like that, and particularly this one—and it’s about to close—that it really helps to get any changes that are made right.”
And on LGBTQ-violence, he added: “No-one, whether gay, straight lesbian, transgender or bisexual should have to live in fear.”
Role: Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State
Constituency: Esher and Walton (since 2010)
As Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will be conducting diplomacy with other countries. He also has rules over the Commonwealth, and can try and enforce polices there. Raab also has the de-facto PM role, for when Boris is out of the country.
Whether Dominic is an ally or not is difficult to say. He did vote in favour of same-sex marriage, missing one vote on making it available to armed forces, however when he was attempting to become Prime Minister he spoke out over trans rights. It should also be noted that Raab wanted to protect churches opposed to conducting ceremonies.
When asked about making it easier for trans people to change their legal gender, he said: “I certainly don’t think I want to make it easier. I think you need to be very careful with people of that age.” Raab said he wouldn’t call himself a feminist, and called some “obnoxious bigots.”
Role: Home Secretary
Constituency: Witham (since 2010)
With anti-LGBTQ violence on the rise in the UK, as well as having powers over whether gay asylum seekers can come here, it is worrying that Priti Patel has been appointed to this job.
Patel, who is viewed to be on the right of the party, voted against same-sex marriage when it was passing through the House of Commons. Meanwhile on other issues such as trans rights, and same-sex inclusive education she has remained relatively silent.
The phrase goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words’ and hopefully Patel will take actions to protect LGBTQ people both here, and fleeing anti-LGBTQ countries.
Role: Brexit Secretary
Constituency: North East Cambridgeshire (since 2010)
There are fears that leaving the European Union could mean a rollback of LGBTQ rights, especially as some are protected by EU law. Barclay voted in favour of same-sex marriage, although has remained silent on other issues within the community.
Speaking to the Ely Standard, a researcher said Barclay had told them on the issue of same-sex marriage: “I am minded to vote with the Government as I feel it is important to allow equality of marriage in this modern age but I reserve judgement until I have heard the arguments from both sides.”
Role: Defence Secretary
Constituency: Wyre and Preston North (since 2005)
Ben Wallace could be one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians sat in Johnson’s cabinet. The man in charge of our defence, and army, has voted against every piece of LGBTQ legislation put in front of him, including voting against the Equality Act and same-sex marriage.
He also voted in favour of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which would’ve made it harder for lesbian couples to conceive children through IVF, had it passed.
With the Army and Navy ranked highly when it comes to employing LGBTQ people, hopefully this will be able to continue with Wallace at the helm.
Role: Justice Secretary
Constituency: South Swindon (since 2010)
Much like Wallace above him, Robert Buckland has never voted in favour of LGBTQ rights. Following the passing of the same-sex marriage bill, Buckland told the Swindon Advertiser: “I’m disappointed that the Bill passed, but I have to accept that a majority voted for the bill and I’m a democrat like anybody else.”
Buckland also defended the government’s decision not to adopt the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which would’ve protected LGBTQ rights in the country after Brexit.
The MP has attended events like Swindon Pride, and pledged his support for them. In an LGBT Conservative leaflet, he wrote Pride was a “really enjoyable occasion where all members of the community, regardless of their sexuality, were able to get together and celebrate our societal values.”
Role: Health Secretary
Constituency: West Suffolk (since 2010)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is one of the few people from Theresa May’s cabinet to survive the transition into Boris’s. The Health Secretary is a good ally, having voted in favour of LGBTQ rights at every opportunity, and in a position where he can influence policy on HIV.
Hancock also defied a ban from then Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, on flying Pride flags on official buildings back in 2015, and said he was “proud” to see the flag flying over the Cabinet Office.
Earlier this week, he announced plans to make the United Kingdom the first country in the world to have no new HIV cases by 2030.
“HIV and Aids are challenges that we must rise to,” he said. “The injustice, the unfairness, and the sadness they have brought must be tackled by us all.
“My generation grew up knowing Aids was a potential death sentence. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Thanks to medical breakthroughs, public health campaigns, breaking down stigma and better education, Aids is no longer a death sentence here.”
Role: Education Secretary
Constituency: South Staffordshire (since 2010)
Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds vocally backed same-sex inclusive education, it is vital that the new one does as well, but they might not under Gavin Williamson.
The former Defence Secretary, before being sacked for leaking top secret information on Huawei, consistently voted against same-sex marriage.
However, his tune has been changing, as he praised the openness of the UK’s military services when it came to LGBTQ acceptance, and he spoke of further acceptance. Earlier this year, he also sought protections for LGBTQ soldiers serving in Brunei.
In a piece for GAY TIMES, he wrote: “We want to be a force for inclusion. Back in 2000, Defence was still trying to put people into boxes that didn’t fit. In 2018 we’re thinking outside the box, leading by example and it won’t just be the LGBTQ community who benefits but our wider Armed Forces and inevitably society as a whole.”
Perhaps he should channel himself from when he was Defence Secretary and tell anti-LGBTQ protesters to ‘shut up and go away.’
Role: International Trade Secretary
Constituency: South West Norfolk (since 2010)
The woman in charge of chasing trade deals, which could see the UK doing more trade, or beginning trade with, anti-LGBTQ countries doesn’t have an impeccable record.
Although she always voted in favour of same-sex marriage, she backed the founder of Mumsnet who refused to bans users of the platform for sharing anti-trans sentiment, hailing her approach to free speech.
Role: Business Secretary
Constituency: South Northamptonshire (since 2010)
Many reports have shown us the challenges that LGBTQ people face, and the person in charge is Andrea Lesadsom, who abstained on same-sex marriage, despite saying that all love was as “valuable” as the other. She later said she was “not happy” with the law.
But in a rare show of support, she did back same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland earlier this year.
Buzzfeed revealed in 2016, that her Ugandan group had links to a gay ‘cure’ site, and its founder viewed homosexuality as a “sin.”
And she attracted further controversy earlier this year, when she said that parents should have the right to choose when their children are “exposed” to relationships education, which involves teaching about same-sex couples.
Role: Environment Secretary
Constituency: Chipping Barnet (since 2005)
The Environment Secretary won’t have any policies on LGBTQ rights, but it is worth noting that Theresa Villiers has mostly been an ally, voting in favour of the Equality Act and same-sex marriage. However, she did vote in favour of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which would’ve made it harder for lesbian couples to conceive children through IVF, had it passed.
Other than that, Theresa has remained silent on other LGBTQ issues.
Role: Transport Secretary
Constituency: Welwyn Hatfield (since 2005)
Again, the Transport network won’t have LGBTQ policy at the helm of his brief. Shapps did vote in favour of same-sex marriage, but was absent on the Equality Act, and voted in favour of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which would’ve made it harder for lesbian couples to conceive children through IVF, had it passed.
However, his vote in favour of same-sex marriage only came if churches could refuse to perform the ceremonies. Speaking to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, he said: “We already have civil partnerships and I think that if people want to get married then that’s their business. Provided religious organisations can make up their own mind then I’ll vote in favour.”
Role: Housing Secretary
Constituency: Newark (since 2014)
With figures showing how 24% of homeless people are LGBTQ, the new Housing Secretary will have to address this issue. However, due to Jenrick’s relative newness to politics, only have been elected in 2014, he doesn’t have much of a record to look at. The most at the moment is an abstention on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, although many Conservatives abstained believing the matter was devolved and should be taken by Northern Ireland politicians.
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Role: Leader of the House of Lords
Constituency: N/A, but has had life peerage since 2014
The Leader of the Lords doesn’t have much of a say on LGBTQ rights, and having joined the Lords after the same-sex marriage vote, she hasn’t had a say on LGBTQ rights since.
Role: Scotland Secretary
Constituency: Dumfries and Galloway (since 2017)
LGBTQ rights are a devolved matter to Scotland, so Alister Jack won’t be getting a say in policy, and much like Jenrick so far his only voice on LGBTQ equality has been abstaining on the Northern Ireland bill that many Conservatives abstained on, believing it to be a devolved matter.
Role: Wales Secretary
Constituency: Vale of Glamorgan (since 2010)
Like Scotland, LGBTQ matters are devolved to the Welsh administrations, and given how Cairns has voted against same-sex marriage, that’s probably a good thing.
However, in a column written for the Glamorgan Gem, he spoke out against his decision. “I regret the decision to vote against it and see the positive difference it has made to the lives of many,” he wrote.
Role: Northern Ireland Secretary
Constituency: Skipton and Ripon (since 2010)
Although Northern Ireland has LGBTQ rights as a devolved matter, given the possibility of direct rule being reimposed on the country, due to the lack of their own assembly, Julian Smith might have the most important job of the devolved nations when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
In the Ripon Gazette, he defended his decision, writing: “I have always had a strong view on same-sex marriage but having a child recently has made me realise that whatever sexuality someone is, they should be able to commit in the way I have been able to commit.”
Hopefully, the DUP won’t strong-arm Julian into dropping same-sex marriage in the country.
Role: International Development Secretary
Constituency: Reading West (since 2010)
Alok Sharma is in charge of who gets foreign aid, and will have powers to restrict aid to countries with anti-LGBTQ policies. But his record does come under scrutiny for being absent a lot on LGBTQ issues. Although he cast one vote in favour of same-sex marriage, he was absent on the bill’s final reading and for legislation surrounding it, perhaps as in a letter to a constituent he did say he wanted protections for churches.
On a brighter side, Sharma has previously tweeted his support for the Path2Equality campaign.
Role: Culture Secretary
Constituency: Loughborough (since 2010)
The new Culture Secretary has had a wild ride on LGBTQ rights. She has voted against same-sex marriage, and apologised over the decision, and back in 2016 she rejected compulsory same-sex education being taught in schools while Education Secretary; hopefully she won’t now be another voice in the cabinet against that. Her turnaround on same-sex marriage can be seen as she was one of the few Conservatives to vote in favour of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
However, as Equalities Minister, Morgan did defend LGBTQ rights, writing on PinkNews about ways to protect trans business owners, condemned Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton for saying “boys don’t wear princess dresses” and even had Christian Concern, a group opposed to LGBTQ equality, urge its members to contact her because of her support for equality.
Role: Work and Pensions Secretary, Women and Equalities Minister
Constituency: Hastings and Rye (since 2010)
Amber Rudd has been a champion on LGBTQ acceptance since entering Parliament in 2010. She voted in favour of same-sex marriage in both the UK and Northern Ireland (the only person in this new cabinet to do so), announced an extra £300,000 to tackle hate crime while Home Secretary, and has hit out of Conservative politicians who criticise same-sex inclusive education.
Role: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Constituency: Surrey Heath (since 2005)
Michael Gove has a largely ceremonial role this time around, and will be looking into no-deal Brexit planning, hopefully he’ll look to make sure LGBTQ rights are protected.
If his record is anything to go by, he could very well do so. He voted in favour of the Equality Act and same-sex marriage, although was absent around votes surrounding other parts of the legislation. As Environment Secretary he backed a plan, which aimed to reduce the suicide rates of LGBTQ farmers, and as Justice Secretary he fired a magistrate opposed to same-sex adoption because of his religious beliefs.
On his support for same-sex marriage, he said: “It’s wrong to say that because of how you love and who you love, you are not entitled to the same rights as others. It’s wrong because inequality is wrong.”
Gove has also butted heads with Conservative MPs opposed to same-sex marriage. When questioned about implications for teachers over same-sex marriage, Gove said: “I don’t know any teachers who think: ‘You know what, in the next hour, as we discuss whatever it might be, my most important aim in my 60 minutes available to me with these young people is to explain why I think this is a pretend marriage’.”
Role: Chairman of the Conservative Party
Constituency: Braintree (since 2015)
As part of Cleverly’s role, he will have powers to remove membership of the Conservative Party for people expressing intolerant views, like anti-gay ones. And although he wasn’t in Parliament at the time of same-sex marriage, he does appear to be an ally.
In 2005, he wrote a blog post in support of civil partnerships, and addressed same-sex marriage, he said his views hadn’t changed after the vote. In the post, he wrote: “I like marriage and I think that in most cases if is a force for good, I also strongly believe in the family, I don’t feel that the two are incompatible.
“Gay ‘marriage’ takes nothing away from heterosexual marriage and while there will be some civil partnerships which are done for the wrong reasons the same can be said of straight marriage.”
Also attending cabinet
Role: Leader of the House of Commons
Constituency: North East Somerset (since 2010)
Anyone who is aware of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the MP for the 17th century in case anyone was wandering, knows steadfastly he follows the Bible, and thus its teachings on homosexuality.
Jacob voted against same-sex marriage, and is the only person attending cabinet who cast a vote against same-sex marriage being legalised in Northern Ireland. Unlike some, like Nicky Morgan and Alun Cairns, who have issued apologies over their votes, Jacob has remained steadfast in his views.
On a talkRadio appearance, he was unable to offer a simple yes or no answer when asked whether he had gay friends.
On trans rights, he defended ministers worried that children were being ‘rushed’ saying: “It is unfortunate that others have responded to her comments so aggressively in the hope that they can shut down debate. The point of free speech is that people have to be allowed to say things that you do not agree with.”
He has also promoted videos from the far-right Alternative for Germany, a political party opposed to LGBTQ rights.
Role: Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Constituency: Richmond (Yorks) (since 2015)
As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Sunak won’t have much says in LGBTQ rights, and it’s difficult to say whether that’s a good or bad thing, as Sunak has remained silent when it comes to LGBTQ issues.
Role: Chief Whip
Constituency: Sherwood (since 2010)
As Chief Whip, Spencer’s job is to do with party discipline, so it’s unlikely he’ll be dealing in any LGBTQ issues.
But when it came to the issue of same-sex marriage, Spencer abstained on all motions relating to it. Speaking to the Hucknall Dispatch, he said he abstained due to being unable to fully represent his constituents’ views. “It is my role to represent the views of my constituency and that becomes very challenging when their views are directly opposed to each other,” he explained.
“On this issue, I found it impossible to represent the views of my constituents as there are some very diverse views. I’ve been subjected to some repulsive and abusive letters and e-mails prior to the vote and made a decision to abstain.”
However, he added: “In truth, I’m disappointed that the government decided to bring this forward as it really has no place interfering in people’s lives. If a committed gay couple want to cement that commitment, it is not my permission to comment.” He also said the vote put churches in a “very difficult position.”
On a slightly better note, in years following the vote he did speak against teachers saying that same-sex marriage was wrong. Although, he advised subjecting them to anti-terrorist legislation, known as an Extremism Disruption Order (EDO).
In an email to a constituent, he wrote: “The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it [freedom of speech]: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted. … The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term ‘marriage’, and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.
“The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong.”
Role: Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
Constituency: Hertsmere (since 2015)
Much like Rishi Sunak, Dowden doesn’t really have a role to play in LGBTQ policy and has remained relatively silent on the issue.
Role: Attorney General
Constituency: Torridge and West Devon (since 2005)
The Attorney General is someone who interprets the law and gives advice on how to implement it, and there could be an issue here as Geoffrey Cox has either been absent, or voted against LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act and same-sex marriage. But other than those votes, the Attorney General seems to be relatively silent on the issues.
Role: Security Minister
Constituency: Great Yarmouth (since 2010)
The new Security Minister did vote in favour of same-sex marriage, although has absent on votes around subsequent legislation. He has remained silent on other pieces of LGBTQ policy.
Role: Housing and Planning Minister
Constituency: Tatton (since 2017); previously Wirral West (2010-2015)
Esther McVey is terrible when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Not only did she vote against same-sex marriage, but she also landed herself in hot water when she backed parents wanting to take their children out of LGBTQ-inclusive lessons.
On the issue, she said: “I believe that parents with very young children … four- and five-year-olds, and I would say that is a young child … their parents know for their child what is age-relevant.”
Her remarks were met with condemnation from Conservative colleagues like Amber Rudd and Justine Greening, and by Labour politicians, like Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner who said the comments made McVey “unfit” to become Prime Minister. McVey did not back down from her position.
Even Lorraine Kelly, a former work collegaue spoke against her, saying: “I strongly disagree with her on LGBT rights and I just felt like I’ve had enough of this, we’ve had two-and-a-half years of going round in circles over Brexit and now we’ve got people at each other’s throats and its got to stop.”
Defending her position on same-sex marriage to the Wirral Globe, she said: “I believe in equality for all, as well as tolerance for all. … However, tolerance for people with different sexual orientations must be coupled with tolerance of those with religious beliefs, whereas this Bill put the rights of one over the other, for that reason I voted against it at the third reading.”
Role: Universities Minister
Constituency: Orpington (since 2010)
Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother has returned to the frontbench, and while he thankfully lacks his brother’s homophobic rhetoric, he does match him in voting in favour of pro-LGBTQ legislation. He remains silent on other issues.
Role: Energy Minister
Constituency: Spelthorne (since 2010)
The new Energy Minister isn’t the greatest appointment for the LGBTQ community, as he has voted against same-sex marriage. When Buzzfeed approached Kwasi over whether he’d apologise for voting against same-sex marriage, like other Conservatives had, the response he gave them was not “explicit in either support or opposition.”
Role: Local Government Minister
Constituency: Rossendale and Darwen (since 2010)
The new Local Government Minister initially voted in favour of same-sex marriage, before being abstaining on the final important vote and missing votes around amendments on it. He told the Rossendale Free Press: “While a lot of my concerns regarding religious freedom were addressed at committee stage, I still felt unable to support the bill.”
Jake, like many others, has remained silent on other LGBTQ issues.
The post What has Boris Johnson’s new look cabinet said on LGBTQ rights? appeared first on Gay Times.
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Author: Matt Moore