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UK Gov. was abandoning conversion therapy ban- then changes course

During last year’s Queen’s Speech in the State Opening of Parliament, a law banning conversion therapy was announced

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Office & Residence of UK Prime Minister at Number 10 Downing Street decorated for London Pride 2021 (Photo Credit: UK Government)

LONDON – The Tory-dominated government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite years of commitment to ban the practice of anti-LGBTQ+ including by his predecessor former P.M. Theresa May had decided to abandon its pledge to do so.

Political editor Paul Brand, the UK Editor for British commercial media conglomerate ITV, in an exclusive story first published Thursday morning, reported that according to a leaked document shared with ITV News, “The PM has agreed we should not move forward with legislation to ban LGBT conversion therapy.”

The briefing titled “Conversion Therapy Handling Plan” admits that there will be a “noisy backlash from LGBT groups and some parliamentarians when we announce we do not intend to proceed,” Brand reported.

The document goes on to warn: “The LGBT sector will read this decision as a signal the government is uninterested in LGBT issues” and sets out how the fallout could be minimised.

Then hours later on Thursday Brand tweeted that the Johnson government abruptly changed course.

During last year’s Queen’s Speech in the State Opening of Parliament, a law banning conversion therapy was announced, this after first being promised by the UK government in 2018.

The leaked document suggested the U-turn would be announced in this May’s Queen’s Speech, and that war in Ukraine could be used as justification.

“This will allow us to position the decision as prioritising our legislative programme, and reduces the risk of looking like we have singled out an LGBT issue,” it reads, according to ITV.

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of major pressures on cost of living and the crisis in Ukraine, there is an urgent need to rationalise our legislative programme.”

ITV noted that UK officials involved in drafting legislation to effect a ban had not yet been informed about the change of policy, including the UK’s Equalities Minister, Liz Truss.

“While Liz is not ideologically committed to the legislation she is likely to be concerned about owning the new position, having personally committed to delivering the Bill”, the document says.

Jayne Ozanne, a human rights/LGBTQ+ campaigner who quit the government’s since-disbanded LGBTQ+ Advisory Panel over its treatment of LGBTQ+ people, said in a statement to PinkNewsUK:

“The prime minister has shown scant regard for the lives of LGBT+ people in this callous decision, which leaves us with little option but to conclude that his word cannot be trusted.

“This is by far the most significant betrayal of trust that the LGBTQ+ community has experienced in years and flies in the face of all the commitments that he, his ministers and other senior Tory MPs have made.

“It is incredulous to believe that he has backtracked on such a promise, particularly given the clear evidence of significant harm to vulnerable LGBTQ+ people highlighted in his own government’s research.”

However, although as ITV reported and human rights/LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell pointed out, the reversal by the Johnson government stopped short of a full and meaningful policy as a proposal for a Trans conversion therapy ban will not be included in any legislative efforts this next parliamentary term.

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British Prime Minster backs ban on trans swimming athletes

When the prime minster was asked whether women can be born with a penis, he replied: “Not without being a man”

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Screenshot/YouTube Al Jazeera

KIGALI, Rwanda – During a break in-between sessions during the first summit meeting of the Commonwealth nations since the coronavirus pandemic in the Rwandan capital this past weekend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked by a reporter about the FINA ban on trans women athletes.

The prime minster’s response was that there were “particular problems” around “issues of gender.”

Johnson told reporters, “Look it’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that. When it comes to, when you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems,” he said.

In a follow-up question the prime minster was also asked whether women can be born with a penis, he replied: “Not without being a man.”

“I think I’ve spoken of three concerns I’ve had in the past. They are to do with the age at which you can deem it competent to transition, the question of safe spaces for women, and the difficulties you have with sporting competitions,” Johnson continued.

“These are all very difficult problems and you have to be very sensitive. But these are the areas.”

Pressed on whether he backed the swimming ban, Johnson said: “I haven’t studied it in detail but I see no reason to dissent. That follows from what I’ve previously said.”

Nadine Dorries, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport  in a column published this past weekend by the Mail on Sunday wrote:

“I have the greatest compassion for anyone who finds themselves living in a body they don’t recognise. But we can’t pretend that sex doesn’t matter. Sex has biological consequences. If you’re born a male, and you go through puberty as a male, your body develops natural physical advantages over a woman’s. That makes you stronger and faster.

“I’m setting a very clear line on this: competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. Not someone who was born male, took puberty blockers or has suppressed testosterone, but unequivocally and unarguably someone who was born female. I want all of our sporting governing bodies to follow that policy.”

The Guardian UK noted that Dorries, said she will make it “crystal clear” to British sporting bodies that competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex when she meets them on Tuesday to discuss their transgender policies.

Dorries will urge organisations representing football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and other sports to follow the lead of Fina, the governing body of swimming, by barring from female events trans women who have “gone through male puberty.”

PinkNewsUK reported Monday that since the swimming governing body FINA announced its revised trans eligibility policy, several national and international sporting administrators have followed.

The International Rugby LeagueFIFA and World Athletics, among others, have either temporarily banned or launched reviews into their trans inclusion policies.

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British Prime Minister called out for his Pride message: ‘You are a disgrace’

Johnson’s Tory-led government seemingly has been more indifferent to Britain’s LGBTQ+ community- Trans persons in particular

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Screenshot/YouTube Twitter)

LONDON – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video message on his official Twitter and YouTube platforms celebrating Pride Month in the UK Tuesday under the social hashtag of Why #Pride Matters.

The Prime Minster said that he was “proud” at how many LGBTQ+ people have sought asylum in the UK from Afghanistan following the Taliban invasion. However, within literal minutes he was promptly criticised and in the Twitter pushback was told by one user: “You’re an absolute disgrace.” Another chimed in saying his remarks were hollow.

Johnson’s Tory-led government seemingly has been more indifferent to Britain’s LGBTQ+ community- Trans persons in particular, according to activists and the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, Stonewall UK.

Last Spring, in early April, Bloomberg reported more than 80 organizations pulled out of the U.K. government’s international LGBTQ conference due to be held in June after Boris Johnson dropped a plan to ban so-called conversion therapy for transgender people.

One of Johnson’s top ministers, Liz Truss, was accused of using LGBTQ+ rights to ‘rile up her right-wing support base’ PinkNewsUK reported.

As minister for women and equalities, Truss scrapped much-needed reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) despite reams of evidence showing there was strong public support for changes that would make accessing legal gender recognition easier for the trans community.

She has also been criticised for her appointments to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and her defences of “gender critical” views.

There has also been outcry by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and activists over the government’s willingness to deport LGBTQ+ and other asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. That decision has been criticised by queer and trans advocates as “hugely concerning” and “potentially life-threatening.”

Canadian LGBTQ+ news outlet Xtra reported that Queer and trans asylum seekers in the U.K. already face inhospitable conditions. Sebastian Rocca, founder of charity Micro Rainbow, which provides safe housing to LGBTQ2S+ asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K., tells Xtra in a statement: “One of the most common reasons for the Home Office to refuse asylum to LGBTQI+ people in the U.K. is because they do not believe they are LGBTQI+,” adding that the policy has “potentially life-threatening consequences.” 

The “single young men” framing of the policy means any gay or bisexual men, transmasculine people or transfeminine people—including those seeking asylum in the U.K. for their sexual orientation or gender identity—could potentially be deported to a country with a long history of human rights violations.

In Tuesday’s message the prime minister referred specifically to Afghan LGBTQ+ persons fleeing the notoriously intolerant Taliban which regained control of the country after the Biden Administration pulled the remaining armed forces out of the war-torn country last summer after nearly 21 years of conflict.

“LGBT Afghans coming to this country because we’re a place that is welcoming and understands that type of intolerance is simply unacceptable in this country,” Johnson said.

Johnson added: “I’m proud above all that the UK is a country where you can be however you want to be and you can love whomever you choose to love no matter who you are or where you come from or what your background is.

“So it’s great to see Afghans coming to this country with that knowledge and seeing our country as a beacon of hope.

“That’s why Pride Month matters so much. And I hope you have a great Pride.”

Twitter was less than impressed:

Why Pride matters | Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

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Kevin Spacey formally charged with four counts of sexual assault in U.K.

The 62-year-old actor is due to make an appearance at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 10:00 (BST) on Thursday

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

LONDON – The Metropolitan Police of London confirmed that Kevin Spacey was formally charged Monday with four counts of sexual assault against three men and additionally has also been charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.

The 62-year-old actor is due to make an appearance at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 10:00 (BST) on Thursday. Last month, the Crown Prosecution Service authorized charges against him.

According to the BBC the charges follow a review of evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police. He has been charged with two counts of sexual assault on a man, now in his 40s, in London in March 2005.

He has also been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent on a man, now in his 30s, in August 2008 in London.

Both incidents taking place when Spacey was the artistic director of The Old Vic theatre in London’s West End theatre district between 2004 and 2015.

The fourth charge of sexual assault is on another man, who is also now in his 30s, in April 2013 in Gloucestershire.

The Oscar winning actor has previously stated that he would voluntarily appear before a British Court.

Allegations surfaced against Spacey in November of 2017 when The Old Vic theatre told the BBC that it had received 20 personal testimonies of alleged inappropriate behaviour by Spacey. The actor’s behaviour was alleged to have ranged from making people feel uncomfortable to sexually inappropriate behaviour, an investigation by the theatre found.

The BBC reported at the time that no-one alleged rape but three people told the Old Vic they had contacted the police, while 14 of the 20 complainants were told by the investigators that they should consider going to the police.

There were 20 individual allegations and 16 were former staff, all of whom were men.

Lewis Silkin, the external law firm engaged by the theatre to conduct the investigation, said more than half the allegations were said to have taken place inside the Old Vic.

RELATED: British Prosecutors Charge Kevin Spacey With Four Counts of Sexual Assault:

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