Government’s LGBT advisory panel disbanded

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By Jessica Parker
BBC political correspondent
13 April 2021, bbc.com

The government’s LGBT advisory panel has been disbanded after three members quit last month, the BBC can reveal.

A government spokesman said a replacement for the panel, which was set up under Theresa May’s premiership, “will be set out in due course”.

Some members told the BBC they had been willing to stay on when their terms ended on the 31 March.

A Conservative backbencher has accused the government of a series of “unforced errors”.

It’s understood the panel has not formally met senior government representatives since last year, although government sources say there has been communication with officials.

Equalities Minister Liz Truss has now written to the remaining members thanking them for their “constructive input”.

In the letter, seen by the BBC, Liz Truss said: “I will also be shortly making an announcement concerning the International LGBT Conference and convening a new body that will take international LGBT rights forward.”

‘Untold damage’

The panel was set up as part of an LGBT Action Plan, established under Theresa May. It was to advise ministers “on issues and policies concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Three advisers quit last month over the government’s handling of LGBT rights and amid claims it was “dragging its feet” on a pledge to ban so-called conversion therapy.

The first to resign, Jayne Ozanne, accused ministers of creating a “hostile environment” for LGBT people.

She said it was “such a shame” that Ms Truss was disbanding the advisory panel.

“It was a force for good, where the needs of LGBT people could be heard and understood.

“This does nothing to rebuild trust or reassure LGBT community of their grave concerns,” she added in a Twitter message.

Crispin Blunt
Tory MP Crispin Blunt says the government is damaging its reputation

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who leads the all-party parliamentary group on Global LGBT+ rights, said government delays and inaction mean the prime minister is “in breach of promise on causes he supports”.

“The government is led by one of the most socially liberal, live-and-let-live leaders in our history,” he said, “yet it is making a series of unforced errors that will serve to wholly unnecessarily alienate LGBT+ people and do untold damage to his reputation”.

If the prime minister wanted to establish the values of Global Britain on human rights then “it is hardly the moment to dispose of your experts,” he added.

Conversion therapy

Nancy Kelley, chief executive of campaign group Stonewall, who was one of the remaining panel members, said: “Many key commitments from the UK LGBT Action Plan remain incomplete, including delivering an effective ban on conversion therapy, and the pandemic has only deepened the inequalities LGBTQ people experience, particularly in mental health.”

Stonewall was “keen to continue working with the government to progress LGBT+ rights”, she added, and she urged the government to ensure the new advisory panel included experts on “both domestic and global LGBT+ policy”.

In her letter to the panel, Ms Truss said: “I am pressing ahead with our commitment to ban conversion therapy in order to protect LGBT people from these abhorrent practices. I look forward to announcing these measures shortly.”

A government spokesman said: “The LGBT Advisory Panel was created under the previous administration and the term of all panel members ended on 31 March.

“The Minister for Women & Equalities has written to panel members to thank them for their contributions, and plans for a replacement for the Panel will be set out in due course.”

SOURCE: bbc.com
MAIN IMAGE: Equalities minister Liz Truss plans to set up a new advisory group

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