During the Conservative Party conference held in Birmingham this year, former leadership candidate and MP for Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt was presented with the award for ‘Ally of the Year’ by the Tory LGBTQ+ group called the LGBT Conservatives.
Before the leadership election this might not have been such a brazenly disrespectful choice. Penny had a voting record in which she had supported equal marriage for gay couples and had spoken in favor of transgender rights. Okay she hadn’t called out her Tory peers when they had come after trans people – but on the whole, out of a mostly bad bunch – you could see why giving her an ‘Ally of the Year Award’ would make sense.
However, she launched her leadership bid with a series of attacks on Trans people, rehashing many a transphobic talking point. From ‘protecting women’s sport’ to attacking “the trans orthodoxy” (whatever that is) and refusing to accept that a trans woman is a woman. She very clearly, alongside other candidates including the Attorney General and the eventual winner – Prime Minister Truss – decided to use overt transphobia as a campaign platform.
So members voted for a transphobe to be 'Ally of the Year' which I think really says something about the Tory LGBT group…
They are against real equality and should be treated as the opponents to queer liberation that they are. https://t.co/x49HU2ne8r
— Owen J Hurcum 🏴🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🟠🌤 (@OwenJHurcum) October 3, 2022
Forget ‘Ally of the Year’, unless of course the word ‘ally’ has been redefined to mean ‘throwing trans people under the bus’. Yet this is exactly who the membership of the LGBT Conservative group voted for.
Though I can’t say I was surprised that is who their members had chosen, mainly because I am not surprised the LGBT Conservatives would give ‘Ally of the Year’ to someone who espouses transphobic rhetoric. The LGBT Conservatives aren’t a group trying to make the party of Government more LGBTQ+ friendly, merely to just provide a veneer of the party being LGBTQ+ friendly.
I should know, in my old Party, Plaid Cymru, I spent ages as a visible LGBTQ+ local representative for the party, and briefly as a Senedd Candidate before I left. Yet for all my trying to get the party to tackle the transphobia within it, I felt I was just being used as someone they could point to publicly when challenged about transphobia. “How can we be transphobic, look we have a Non-Binary person as a Senedd Candidate”.
That’s exactly the cover the LGBT Cons give to the Tory Party. “How can we be anti LGBTQ+ when we have an LGBT Conservative Group?”.
EXCL: Last night’s LGBT party at Conservative conference descended into claims of homophobic abuse.
Attendees had to be removed for using highly offensive homophobic slurs.
One gay Conservative attending told me “Morally I don’t feel I fit in anymore”.https://t.co/MB1TLfP9YM
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) October 5, 2022
In fact they are worse than just being a cover for the Torys bigotry, I would argue they are complicit in it. The UK Branch of a group described as a far right Anti-Trans Hate Group was given a stall at the Conservative Party Conference, what did LGBT Cons say about this? Nothing.
Liz Truss’ campaign team said she might not go ahead with the promised ban on so called conversion therapy, what did the LGBT Cons say about this? Nothing. A Tory PM appoints a Cabinet where only around a third of it had voted in favor of Gay Marriage equality, what did the LGBT Cons say about this? Nothing.
When transphobia was a major part of many a candidates leadership campaign during the process of electing a new Prime Minister, what did the LGBT Cons say about this? Nothing. All the LGBT Cons seem to do is be a sell out for a party that actively works against LGBTQ+ interests and rights. The most I have ever seen them do is send a pithy questionnaire to some of the candidates and not bother following up on this when most candidates didn’t bother replying.
A look through their social media will show you that, when they aren’t rubbing shoulders with the very people working to remove LGBTQ+ rights and protections, they are trying to sell tickets to their curry nights or get you to vote for people like Penny for ally of the year in their awards. I strongly believe that as an LGBTQ+ person you can subscribe to whatever politics you believe in, that’s cool by me.
However if your politics bring you into a party whose leaders attack any part of the LGBTQ+ community, if you aren’t going to leave that party because of that, at the very least you have a duty to work towards stopping those attacks. The LGBT Cons don’t do that – instead they stop for selfies with them.
The abuse my team at @LGBTCons have had tonight is disgusting. We’ve run a free event and it’s spoilt by the few that feel the need to to be abusive, not on at all. Thank you to those who were respectful, it means a lot 🤍
— Elena Bunbury (@elena_bunbury) October 5, 2022
They have turned their back on the LGBTQ+ community, and whilst that doesn’t make them any less valid in their queerness – and I will always stand by them if/when they are targeted by homophobia or transphobia – it does make them traitors to the liberation movement. I don’t use that word lightly, I have been called that in my political circles before, however what other word can you give to an LGBTQ+ person who supports, votes for, and defends a Party whose leaders want trans people like me to no longer exist?
LGBTQ+ Liberation is of paramount importance, and having a governing party that wishes to defend our community goes a huge way in making that liberation possible. In Wales and Scotland we have Government’s that, whilst certainly not perfect, are trying make their respective countries better places for LGBTQ+ people. Yet the Government of Westminster is actively doing what it can to stop progress in these countries and indeed across the entirety of the UK.
If the LGBT Cons cared about LGBTQ+ Liberation I’m sure they would have said something by now considering how overt and dangerous, the rhetoric of their leaders has been against trans people and the wider LGBTQ+ community. Yet they haven’t and I can’t ever see them taking a stand against Tory bigotry. Why would they? That isn’t going to help them get given a safe seat to stand in so they can once more continue to ignore the liberation of their own community.