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Boris Johnson’s LGBTQ+ rights advisor criticizes advocacy groups over conference cancellation

Nick Herbert acknowledges episode damaged UK ‘global reputation’

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Nick Herbert is a member of the British House of Lords who advises British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on LGBTQ issues. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advisor on LGBTQ+ issues on Sunday issued a lengthy statement in response to the boycott of the government’s Safe to Be Me Conference that prompted its cancellation.

Nick Herbert, a member of the British House of Lords, in his statement described the conference’s cancellation as “damaging to the government and to the U.K.’s global reputation.” Herbert added it is “also an act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby.”

The conference was to have taken place in London from June 29-July 1.

The British government cancelled it last week after more than 100 British LGBTQ+ rights groups announced they would boycott it in response to Johnson’s decision to exclude Transgender people from a conversion therapy ban. LGBT Business Champion Iain Anderson on Tuesday resigned over the issue.

Here is Herbert’s entire statement.

The Safe To Be Me equality conference was to be a global first, bringing governments, businesses, parliamentarians, faith leaders and activists together to discuss how to advance LGBT rights across the world. Our focus was on ending violence, advancing decriminalization in the 71 jurisdictions where homosexual conduct is still a crime, ensuring access to HIV/AIDS treatments, and building the economic case for inclusion.

We had remarkable speakers lined up and exciting plans for a new public-private fund to support LGBT groups in countries where they need our help. There was enthusiasm from governments and organizations planning to attend, often indicating they would bring new announcements or commitments to progress LGBT rights. We aimed to drive real action globally, and one major government had already indicated that they would hold a successor event to take agreed initiatives forward.

The conference’s cancellation is damaging to the government and to the U.K.’s global reputation. But it is also an act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby. Having orchestrated the boycott which brought the event down, Stonewall now claims to be “truly sad that the government does not feel in a position to run the UK’s first global LGBT+ conference,” adding that this shows a lack of concern for equal rights. Crocodile tears will be of little consolation to brave human rights defenders in countries where the right to wave a rainbow flag without being arrested is a distant dream.   

LGBT groups were understandably dismayed, as was I, when a promised conversion therapy ban was suddenly dropped and then only partially reinstated just hours later. The bill will no longer extend to trans people, reflecting concern that more time is needed to ensure that legitimate therapies to help young people with gender dysphoria are not inadvertently criminalized. I believe such concerns can be allayed. Helping people come to terms with who they are is not the same as setting out to take them in one direction or the other — that is not therapy, it is ideology, and it can do irreparable harm.  

It is quite possible that Parliament will decide to include trans people in the new law, as many other countries have done, for instance in Canada, where Conservative MPs unanimously supported the fast-tracking of a ban. But we must address the concerns and make the case for change, deploying the evidence and reassuring parliamentarians that a ban which include trans people is a safe and justifiable course to take.

Some of those who have raised their voices in Parliament about trans rights are reactionaries who opposed reforms such as equal marriage. But others are not. They are decent, middle-of-the-road politicians who supported gay rights but have genuine concerns that gender ideology may have gone too far, and that women’s rights and children must be protected.

Opinion research tells us that the public is sympathetic to trans people, and wishes to be kind, but has concerns about certain issues such as the safety of women in single sex spaces and especially the fairness of trans women competing in elite women’s sports. Our laws already allow for sensible balances to be struck to meet these concerns: Exemptions to the Equality Act allow single sex spaces to be protected, trans women prisoners to be placed in special wings, and sports bodies to set rules which may exclude trans competitors. Calm explanation of the facts and discussion on the right boundaries of these compromises is needed.

But social media, the rise of identity politics and the bitter polarization of every issue does not lend itself to rational discussion. When the prime minister expresses concerns, in reasonable terms, about issues such as fairness in sport, he is not being “transphobic”, as Stonewall immediately branded him. Nor is he alone, and growing disquiet across the political spectrum cannot sensibly be swept aside.

In the days when it was winning, the LGBT lobby made a compelling case for change, engaging successive governments and briefing parliamentarians. Now it is organizing boycotts and shouty protests. A fortnight ago in Manchester, a protester held up a trans flag with the words “some women have penises.” It is hard to imagine a surer way to lose a public argument. For days afterwards, politicians struggled to say whether they agreed, or could define what a woman is. A sensitive, complex debate is being reduced to ugly, dehumanizing talk about body parts.

Some may tell the government that this is a political opportunity for a wedge issue, but this would be deeply unwise. It is one thing to make an issue of statue-toppling and historical revisionism, another to appear to be attacking minorities and vulnerable people. It is also a misreading of public opinion. People want to hear solutions: they don’t see these issues through an ideological lens. 

We must not allow a descent into a political mire which is dominated by extremes and which suffocates the reasonable middle ground. Across the Atlantic, this debate has become toxic, with hideous and persecutory anti-trans laws being passed by state legislatures. That is not who we are. We have to find a way to take the heat out of this debate.

I believe we now need a Royal Commission to examine these issues dispassionately. Its members would have to be truly neutral for such an inquiry to work: It could be led by a senior judge. It would need to be set up with cross-party support and without predetermination of its direction or outcome. Weighing the evidence on contested areas such as sport, safe spaces for women, and gender identity services for children and young people — building on the work of the independent Cass review — would be a better way to detoxify the debate, protect trans people from being caught in the political crossfire, and find the common ground we need.

No one will win from a culture war on these issues, and those most harmed will be trans people who already feel stigmatized, people who are different yet just like us, human beings who deserve greater kindness than today’s politics will permit.

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UK Black Pride marks 18 years of empowerment

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah founded event in 2005

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Phyll Opoku-Gyimah founded UK Black Pride in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Opoku-Gyimah's Instagram page)

By Elvis Kachi | LONDON — In a world where diversity and inclusivity are increasingly valued, UK Black Pride stands as a beacon of empowerment and celebration. As it prepares to mark its 18th anniversary on Saturday, the event continues to shine a spotlight on the experiences, struggles and triumphs of LGBTQ individuals from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds. With each passing year, UK Black Pride grows stronger, amplifying its message of unity, acceptance, and change.

Founded by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, affectionately known as Lady Phyll, in 2005, the event emerged from the necessity to create a space that speaks directly to the intersection of race and LGBTQ identity. Traditional Pride events, while important, often fall short in fully addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals who belong to both marginalized communities. Recognizing this gap, UK Black Pride was born with the intention to provide a platform for underrepresented voices.

The essence of UK Black Pride lies in its commitment to fostering unity within diverse communities. 

“UK Black Pride’s Community Stage is where thought-provoking discussions intertwine with the performances of emerging musicians and talented spoken word artists,” UK Black Pride says in a statement. “This event celebrates the kaleidoscope of identities that exist within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, highlighting the beauty of difference while erasing the lines that have historically divided us. Attendees find solace in connecting with people who share their experiences, building a support network that extends beyond the event itself.”

Over the years, UK Black Pride has not only created a safe space but also played a crucial role in amplifying the visibility of LGBTQ individuals of color, and this year’s no different. Visibility is key to breaking down stereotypes, dispelling misconceptions, and creating a world that values and respects all identities. This year, programs that prioritize health, such as breast cancer and Best for My Chest Campaign, refugees, finding and building connections, faith, sexuality, and even poems, would go in full swing. The anniversary, which NYX Professional Makeup has sponsored, would serve as a reminder of the progress made, and the battles yet to be fought.

Only recently, it was reported that two queer people were stabbed outside a south London nightclub. This is testament of the rife homophobia that continues to trump the country. It is also this premise upon which UK Black Pride is built. The 18th anniversary therefore becomes a testament to the resilience of both the event itself, and the communities it represents. Against the backdrop of ongoing struggles for equality and justice, this celebration offers a moment of joy and triumph. It stands as a symbol of the strength found in unity and the determination to overcome challenges. To this vain, music genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano will be played from leading DJs like DJ Biggy C, Scarlett K, DIBS, etc. 

As UK Black Pride enters its 18th year, its impact continues to extend beyond the event itself. The visibility it creates, the conversations it sparks, and the connections it forges all contribute to a broader cultural shift. 

“With each passing year, the event moves us closer to a world where everyone’s identity is embraced, and discrimination is a thing of the past. This event, born out of necessity, continues to stand tall as a beacon of empowerment, amplifying the voices of LGBTQ individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds. As we honor this milestone, let us also recognize that the journey towards equality and acceptance is ongoing. UK Black Pride reminds us that the struggle is real, but so is the strength that comes from unity and love.”

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Elvis Kachi is a Nigerian freelance journalist and a Fashion & Culture Editor who covers business, everything art, fashion, and Lifestyle.

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UK confirms measures to reverse number of gender-neutral toilets

Any changes affect England only. The Department has not said whether these measures will extend to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

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Gender-neutral toilets signage UK (Photo credit: Twitter)

LONDON – The Home Office’s Department for Levelling Up announced Sunday that the UK government will implement measures to reverse the rise of gender-neutral toilets as part of wider efforts to protect single sex spaces.

Any changes will affect England only. The Department has made no suggestion whether these measures will extend to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland in the future.

In its statement the government noted all new non-domestic public and private buildings will be required to provide separate single-sex toilets for women and men and/or a self-contained, private toilet as a minimum.

According to the Department’s statement, these changes come amid dignity and privacy concerns from women and elderly people who feel they are being unfairly disadvantaged as publicly accessible toilets are increasingly being converted into gender neutral facilities.

Concerns over the rise of neutral gender facilities has meant that public have been forced to share cubicle and hand-washing facilities, leading to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and a limitation on privacy and dignity for all, the statement read.

The government claims that these new regulations and guidance will mean women, who may need to use facilities more often because of pregnancy or sanitary needs, will now be guaranteed appropriate facilities either through a separate single-sex space or through a self-contained, private toilet.

PinkNewsUK reported that Pro-LGBTQ+ activists have previously signalled the importance of gender-neutral toilets, including conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who said in 2022 that the “inclusive” facilities are something she stands up for “enormously.

Following the policy’s announcement, Nokes told PinkNewsUK: “What matters most when it comes to toilets is design. I always point at Portcullis House in Parliament which has bathrooms on every floor, nobody refers to them as gender-neutral bathrooms – they are just bathrooms.

“If you have lavatory facilities that are each self-contained units, with their own wash basin and hand drier, and wall-to-ceiling walls and doors, and men remember to put the seat down, there really is nothing to complaint about,” she continued.

“What we all want is nice, clean, private loos, and in new builds in particular that ought not to be impossible.”

Kemi Badenoch, UK Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

“It is important that everybody has privacy and dignity when using public facilities. Yet the move towards ‘gender neutral’ toilets has removed this fundamental right for women and girls.

“These proposals will ensure every new building in England is required to provide separate male and female or unisex facilities, and publish guidance to explain the difference, protecting the dignity, privacy and safety of all.”

Minister Badenoch has faced much criticism from the LGBTQ+ community over her trans-hostile statements previously and her opposition to a conversion therapy ban that includes trans people.

PinkNewsUK also reported that in remarks leaked in 2021, but made in 2018, just a year after Badenoch became an MP, she reportedly described trans women as “men using women’s bathrooms” and asked: “We’ve got gay marriage and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looks for?”

The changes will be made through building regulations and guidance. The aim of the new requirements will ensure that:

  • Separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women; and/or
  • Self-contained, private toilets are provided where space allows to ensure privacy and safety;
  • Mixed sex shared facilities are not an option, except when lack of space allows only a single toilet

Changing the rules for single sex and/or universal toilets to be required would have positive equality outcomes for those who may not currently feel safe while using toilet facilities.

According to a recent YouGov opinion tracker, as of Wednesday (9 August), 47 per cent of women in the UK oppose gender-neutral toilets, while a separate 47 per cent of women support having gender-neutral toilets as well as separate toilets for men and women. The remaining six per cent support gender-neutral toilets only, or do not know.

People aged 18-24 are more strongly in favour of including gender-neutral toilets (51 per cent), while 34 per cent oppose them.

Additional reporting from PinkNewsUK

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Anti-trans perceptions grow in Britain new YouGov study finds

Over half of gay & lesbian people reported perceived positivity towards themselves (54%), compared to 31% bisexual people & 14% trans people

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Pride in London 2023 (Photo courtesy of Pride in London)

LONDON – British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov published a study Friday that showed that a growing number of Britons are expressing open hostility to the island nation’s transgender community.

YouGov surveyed a group of 1,023 LGBTQ+ Britons and 2,313 cis-straight adults between 30 May-17 June and 2-3 August, 2023.

Matthew Smith, the head of data journalism for YouGov noted that the new YouGov study, the third, and most expansive, in a series spanning back to 2018, shows evidence of an overall gradual erosion in support towards transgender rights. In some areas the shift is very pronounced.

A majority of Britons believe that people should be able to change the gender they socially identify as, with 55% saying “people should be able to identify as being of a different gender to the one they had recorded at birth”. Fewer than half as many (25%) take the opposing view, with 20% unsure.

However, when it comes to the matter of being allowed to legally change their gender status, the public is divided. Four in ten (40%) say the law should allow people to change their legal gender, while 37% say it should not. The remaining 23% are unsure.

Britain’s leading LGBTQ+ media outlet, PinkNewsUK, reported that the research found that 39 per cent of Brits “personally view” trans people in a positive light, with 33 per cent saying their feelings are neutral and four per cent saying they “don’t know.”

The remaining 25 per cent had negative feelings towards the community. This is up from 16 per cent in 2021, and follows YouGov research in 2022 which found that Britons had become less likely to support trans rights

Transgender rights are under attack in the United Kingdom. Five months ago British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from being signed into law by King Charles III. Additionally Sunak has also made clear that he plans to re-write the Equality Act to bar trans women from single-sex spaces including changing rooms and sporting competitions.

This past June PinkNewsUK reported that it had obtained a recent video in which Sunak is clearly heard mocking trans females.

YouGov also noted the study’s respondents were given a brief explanation of what the current requirements are for someone to legally change their gender (exact wording can be seen in the chart below), including the fact that a doctor’s approval must be obtained for someone to legally transition, and that a trans person should have to live as their ‘new’ gender for two years before they can gain legal recognition.

In principle, Britons oppose making this process easier at a rate of almost two to one (50% vs 26%).

Opposition is higher still when it comes to the specific aspects highlighted. By 60% to 17%, Britons think the legal process should continue to require a doctor’s approval, and by a similar 59% to 15%, Britons say transgender people should continue to have to show they have lived in their new gender for two years before the change can be legally accepted.

PinkNewsUK pointed out that this shift in attitudes comes amid ever-increasing attacks on the community from politicians and the media.

Over half of gay and lesbian people reported perceived positivity towards themselves (54 per cent), compared to 31 per cent of bisexual people and 14 per cent of trans people (the report did not consider intersectional identities) PinkNewsUK also reported adding the broader British public had a more positive view than the LGBTQ+ community expected.

Additional reporting by PinkNewsUK

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British coffeehouse uses transman in mural, transphobes outraged

The reaction from British ‘gender criticals’ opposed to trans rights was to launch #BoycottCostaCoffee campaign on X, formerly called Twitter

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Screenshot/Twitter

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, UK – A British coffeehouse chain is drawing heavy critique over its inclusion of an artistic caricature of a shirtless ‘trans man’ sipping on a coffee emblazoned on one of its company’s vans.

Costa Coffee, the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world and largest in the United Kingdom had a mural created that depicts a transgender male with double mastectomy scars pictured which a company spokesperson defended telling reporters it “showcases and celebrates inclusivity”.

The reaction from British ‘gender criticals’ and others opposed to transgender rights in the UK was to launch a furious #BoycottCostaCoffee campaign on X, the social-media platform formerly called Twitter.

Trans male YouTube creator and social media influencer Jamie Raines took to his ‘X’ account to applaud the company writing: “So @CostaCoffee depicted a trans masc person, and transphobes are angry and shouting #BoycottCostaCoffee (obvs). Shockingly to them trans people exist, and might drink coffee. Anyway, as a trans man with similar scars, thank you Costa for the representation.”

“At Costa Coffee we celebrate the diversity of our customers, team members and partners. We want everyone that interacts with us to experience the inclusive environment that we create, to encourage people to feel welcomed, free and unashamedly proud to be themselves. The mural, in its entirety, showcases and celebrates inclusivity,” a Costa Coffee spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

One prominent critic of the transgender community, James Esses, a British therapist who was expelled from his training institute over his ideological opposition regarding the care of trans-identified youth and his long held gender critical beliefs also took to ‘X’ castigating the coffee chain.

“Dear @CostaCoffee, Could you kindly explain why you are glorifying irreversible surgery performed on healthy breasts of women for a mental health condition?” Esses wrote.

In another tweet he attacked the artist of the mural:

British physician Dr. Helen Webberley however took the gender criticals to task noting:

“Know where I’ll be stopping for my morning cuppa tomorrow morning.

Everyone shouting #BoycottCostaCoffee because it “promotes the mutilation of teenage girls” have completely missed the point. Top surgery is a completely routine and normal procedure that helps reduce gender dysphoria in trans men – a debilitating mental health issue that sadly takes so many lives every year. Top surgery doesn’t harm people – it saves lives. Good on

@CostaCoffee for being on the right side of history.”

One Scottish local politician wryly noted that the positive aspect to the uproar over the mural was the revelation of exactly who the “transphobes” were. Nairn McDonald posted to his ‘X’ account:

“Watching idiots sharing #BoycottCostaCoffee because Costa put a Trans-Man in their art work is exposing so many transphobes. Bravo @CostaCoffee for being truly inclusive. To the Transphobes…I look forward to my Costa being quieter without you.”

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British Prime Minister issues apology to LGBTQ+ veterans

“Today, on behalf of the British state, I apologise and I hope all those affected will be able to feel proud parts of the veteran community”

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UK LGBTQ+ Veterans group 'Fighting With Pride' gathered to march this past May at Birmingham Pride. (Photo Credit: Fighting With Pride/Facebook)

LONDON – Speaking to the House of Commons on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologized to the nation’s LGBTQ+ military veterans for what he termed [a] “period, many endured the most horrific sexual abuse and violence, homophobic bullying and harassment, all while bravely serving this country.” 

Speaking at the last Prime Minister’s Question Time before Parliament’s summer break, Sunak’s apology came after the report released this week, which had been previously leaked in May, confirmed that gay and lesbian British soldiers, airmen, and sailors were subjected to horrific electroshock treatment.

“Today, on behalf of the British state, I apologise and I hope all those affected will be able to feel proud parts of the veteran community that has done so much to keep our country safe.” 

Additionally, PinkNewsUK reported, gay and lesbian servicemembers were forced to endure so-called ‘conversion therapy’, sexual assault, unwarranted surveillance and blackmail from their superiors between 1967, when homosexuality was partially decriminalized, and 2000, when the ban on gay soldiers serving in the military was lifted.

The LGBT Veterans Independent Review was carried out by chair Lord Etherton, independent of both the government and the armed forces, and was reportedly submitted to the government in May for review and response, PinkNewsUK also noted.

The UK’s Fighting with Pride non-profit charity, which was set up by former Royal Navy officer, Craig Jones and ex-RAF navigator, Caroline Paige in 2020 to right the wrongs of the military service ban, including financial remedy from lost pensions and loss of earnings, reacted in a statement:

Craig Jones MBE, Executive Chair, and Caroline Paige, Chief Executive of Fighting With Pride, said: ‘This is a deeply emotional moment for both of us, a day we’d hoped for but sometimes wondered if it would actually happen. More importantly, this is the day thousands of veterans whose lives have been blighted by the cruel ban have been waiting for. It’s a watershed moment for LGBT+ veterans who’ve lost careers, homes, families and their sense of honour and justice.
‘The Prime Minister’s apology on behalf of the nation marks the culmination of a very long road travelled on behalf of people who’ve suffered unimaginable loss and shame. Sadly, for some, this day comes too late.  
‘We must now ensure the government moves quickly, so that words translate into action. We’ll be working with government to make sure every affected veteran gets the reparation and compensation they’re owed.

PinkNewsUK also reported that Cat Dixon, vice chair of Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization and an army veteran said the apology for the military ban is an “important step” to  “achieving justice” for those LGBTQ+ people who served in the armed Forces and “like me, experienced shame, humiliation and a ruined military career because of our sexuality.”

“Many were imprisoned, experienced corrective violence, and lived with the stain of a criminal convictions because of who they loved and which left some homeless and many unable to work,” Dixon added.

“Stonewall is proud to have played a key role in overturning the ban in the courts which was finally lifted in 2000, to have worked with HM Armed Forces over the years to support their journey to being LGBTQ+ inclusive employers, and in ensuring that LGBTQ+ veterans received today’s apology and where needed support.” 

“I would like to thank all who spoke out and contributed to the independent review, Lord Etherton and Fighting with Pride for their steadfast resolution to ensuring justice is done,” Dixon said.

Prime Minister’s apology for Armed Forces Gay Ban:

Related:

Read the independent report here: (Link)

Additional reporting from PinkNewsUK

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Out lesbian Scottish MP Mhairi Black says nope, won’t run again

“It is one of the most unhealthy workplaces-It’s a toxic environment- how it functions is the opposite of everything that I find comfortable”

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Mhairi Black MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Scotland, UK (Photo Credit: Office of Mhairi Black/Facebook)

 PAISLEY, Scotland, UK – During an appearance on a political and current events podcast Tuesday, openly lesbian Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black told the host that she is stepping down at the end of her current term saying that the deciding factors were the environment and politics of the House of Commons, Westminster itself in general- labeling it as “unhealthy” and “toxic.”

First elected as the youngest member of parliament in 2015 at age 20, the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP speaking about her decision said:

 “Honestly, because I’m tired is a big part of it. And the thing that makes me tired is Westminster.

“It is one of the most unhealthy workplaces that you could ever be in. It’s a toxic environment. The entire design of the place and how it functions is the opposite of everything that I find comfortable,” she added.

Labeling the seat of the UK government a “poisonous place,” Black added: “Whether that’s because of what folk can get away with in it, or the number of personal motivations – and folk having ulterior motives for things – it’s just not a nice place to be in.” 

At age 28, she will be 30 in the next elections cycle which she pointed out means that she’s spent a decade as an elected politico, and she took aim at the politics of Westminster voicing her anger that her constituents continue to have no real voice in the UK’s government despite what she categorized as her “best efforts.”

Later she offered a more detailed explanation in her Twitter post:

PinkNewsUK journalist Chantelle Billson reported:

Black’s departure will be a loss for LGBTQ+ rights because she has used her platform to stand up for queer rights and publically shoot down misinformed toxic rhetoric.

She has previously said that it was understandable why members of the public who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ were confused by trans issues.

“I understand how the vast majority of people aren’t aware of trans issues, they aren’t aware of the complexities that people have to go through, which is exactly why I think the Scottish government have been right in going to the experts.”

Black also said that she had no sympathy for Rosie Duffield’s “misinformed” views on trans rights.

In 2019, Black spoke out about a “toxic” backlash against transgender rights and accused opponents of trans rights of spreading “misconceptions and outright lies”.

Additional reporting from PinkNewsUK

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PinkNewsUK: Rise in UK anti-drag hate has U.S. influences

“Drag performers are framed as seeking to ‘groom’ children into LGBTQ+ identities, particularly trans identities”

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Anti-drag protest in London earlier this year. (Screenshot/YouTube Channel 4 News UK)

Editor’s Note: The following excerpt from PinkNewsUK details the new research which blames members of the Conservative government, and the import of conspiracy theories from the US for the rise in anti-drag sentiment in the UK.

The report was issued by The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank founded in 2006 that specialises in research and policy advice on hate, extremism, and disinformation. It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.

By Sophie Perry | LONDON – A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found, a “loose coalitions of extremists, conspiracy theorists, local activists and fringe political actors”, including far-right groups, fundamentalist religious activists and anti-LGBTQ+ right-wing influencers, are to blame.

A new report specifically names Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson for his comments on “culture wars” in helping escalate anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

The report digs into the rise of the anti-LGBTQ+ “groomer” slur – which attempts to link queer people with pedophilia – framing drag as “trans ideology”, performances as misogynistic, and the entire concept as satanic, and states these are just some of the narratives being used by groups in various countries to mobilise against drag under the guise of protecting children from harm. 

The research outlines how much UK-based fury aimed towards drag events has been lifted from ideas posed by similar groups in the United States, such as Gays Against Groomers and Libs of TikTok. 

The groomer theory, where drag queens and other LGBTQ+ people are seen as trying to groom children to become LGBTQ+ or engage in sexual abuse, has taken precedent as the most extreme form of anti-drag rhetoric. 

“Drag performers are framed as ideological indoctrinators, seeking to ‘groom’ children into LGBTQ+ identities, particularly trans identities,” the report reads.

“They are also framed as predatory, with some people, such as Turning Point UK activist and GBNews presenter Calvin Robinson asking the rhetorical question, ‘Why [are] drag queens so keen to spend time with your children?’”

More extreme versions of this claim will argue that drag literally promotes “sex in front of children”. 

When discussing the involvement of the Tory government, the report states: “In February 2023, the Conservative Party’s deputy chairman Lee Anderson discussed a strategy of leaning in to ‘culture wars’ in the next election, signifying further political emphasis being put on exploiting these issues.”

Read the full article at PinkNewsUK: (Link)

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British Prime Minister mocks trans females in leaked video

“Like me, you can probably see that he was trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises” the prime minister said

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President Joe Biden meets with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Tuesday, April 12, 2023, at the Grand Central Hotel Belfast in Northern Ireland. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

LONDON – Britain’s leading LGBTQ+ media outlet, PinkNewsUK, reported Sunday that it had obtained a recent video in which British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak is clearly heard mocking trans females.

The leaked video, shared exclusively with PinkNewsUK, is from a gathering of the 1922 Committee – a group of all-Conservative lawmakers that meets weekly when Parliament is in session – on June 5, 2023.

According to PinkNewsUK:

“PinkNews has seen an exclusive photograph from the event, and it is estimated that up to a hundred MPs were in attendance, including notable Tories such as 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady and veteran’s affairs minister Johnny Mercer. Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, and Desmond Swain, MP for New Forest West, were also at the gathering.

Sunak’s address and his choice of humour, which dehumanises and ‘others’ trans women and is met with raucous laughter from Tory MPs, suggests that the PM is keen to maintain his anti-trans stance when speaking to colleagues without the media being present.”

From PinkNewsUK:

The Prime Minster makes reference to an opposition leader, although that person is not clearly identified. PinkNewsUK noted that the prime minster then took aim at Sir Edward Jonathan Davey, a British politician who has served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats since 2020.

“Over the same period of time, you might have noticed Ed Davey has been very busy,” Sunak says.

“Like me, you can probably see that he was trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises.

“You’ll all know that I’m a big fan of everybody studying maths to 18, but it turns out that we need to focus on biology,” the prime minister added.

The person who shared the video with PinkNews said: “The veneer of freedom of speech publicly is one thing but to make jokes in private, it’s another thing altogether.

“You wouldn’t make jokes about other marginalised people the way he did about trans people.”

They added: “There was laughter, there were quite a few younger attendees who looked visibly uncomfortable.”

Sunak’s mention of ‘biology’ and the use of trans women as a punchline appears to demonstrate the prime minister’s willingness to adopt so-called gender-critical lines and attack the trans community when addressing his own MPs in private PinkNewsUK noted.

Transgender rights are under attack in the United Kingdom. Five months ago Sunak blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from being signed into law by King Charles III. Additionally Sunak has also made clear that he plans to re-write the Equality Act to bar trans women from single-sex spaces including changing rooms and sporting competitions.

PinkNewsUK has reached out to Sunak for comment.

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As King Charles III is crowned, will he address LGBTQ+ rights?

Homophobia is one of many lingering legacies of the British Empire, will King Charles address LGBTQ+ rights or, like his mother, remain silent

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King Charles III is crowned as British monarch at Westminster Abbey. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

LONDON – In a solemn ceremony dating back to the 25th of December 1066 when William the Conqueror was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, and seventy years after his mother was crowned monarch on June 2, 1953, Charles the third was anointed King by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The King’s coronation included investiture of his wife Camilla as Queen Consort. The ceremony is principally a religious recognition as the Archbishop of Canterbury, surrounded by the high ranking principals of other religious orders placed St Edward’s Crown upon Charles’ head after first giving him the other two symbols of the monarchy, the Orb, which represents the world under Christ, and the Sovereign’s Ring, symbolizing the marriage of a monarch to his people. Charles wore the Coronation Glove and held the Scepter with Cross, a symbol of earthly power, in his right hand.

Watch: King Charles III is crowned as British monarch:

Following the King’s coronation, his wife was crowned as Queen Camilla. 

Queen Camilla is crowned by the Archbishop. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

Coronation Day began with the King’s Procession in which the King and Queen Consort Camilla traveled from Buckingham Palace to the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation since William IV’s in 1831.

Leaving Buckingham Palace, accompanied by the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, the route took the royals past a guard of honour, comprising about 160 members of the three armed services. The 1.42-mile route was also flanked by 1,000 members of the military from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

 King Charles III’s procession back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey. (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

King Charles III’s procession back to Buckingham Palace:

Upon return to the palace under cloudy grey rainy skies the King and the royal family gathered on the balcony to greet the thousands of well-wishers gathered along the Mall. Of note, only members of the working royals were on the balcony with Prince Harry and the King’s brother Prince Andrew noticeably absent.

The King and Queen consort with the royal family together on the palace balcony.

(Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

Dignitaries from around the world including world leaders had gathered for the coronation. The U.S. delegation was led by the First Lady, Jill Biden, and in a tweet the president noted: “Congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their Coronation. The enduring friendship between the U.S. and the U.K. is a source of strength for both our peoples. I am proud the First Lady is representing the United States for this historic occasion.”

Of interest to the LGBTQ+ community will be the new King’s stance on the issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community. PinkNewsUK reported that Elizabeth’s 70-year reign saw transformative changes in the UK, including major laws that advanced LGBTQ+ rights including the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2014.

However, the late Queen avoided commenting publicly on LGBTQ+ rights. She kept herself out of social and political issues, and it seems that LGBTQ+ rights, even in the 21st century, were considered just that.

LGBTQ+ rights advocates in the UK and in the Commonwealth of Nations that the King will now head are waiting to see if the he will more vocal about LGBTQ+ rights. PinkNewsUK noted that Charles has largely followed in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps, and there is no record of him speaking on LGBTQ+ rights.

For the UK’s transgender community, especially in Scotland which passed an updated Gender Recognition Law only to have it blocked by the conservative government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, barring it being signed into law by the King in the process known as ‘Royal Assent,’ the King remaining silent has become problematic according to LGBTQ+ rights advocates and organizations.

Sir Elton John has previously vouched for Charles, expressing his confidence that the King would use his influence to decriminalize homosexuality in all Commonwealth states.

Same-sex relations remain illegal in many countries once colonised by Britain – many of which now form the Commonwealth.

“Things don’t happen over night. You can’t change a culture and people’s way of thinking over night. But you can certainly step in the water and have a good go. If you don’t step in the water, nothing’s ever going to get done,” Elton said in 2018, Gay Times reported.

“I think Prince Charles, when he is made Head of the Commonwealth, will do those kind of things.”

Homophobia is one of the many lingering legacies of the British Empire which carried over into the Commonwealth of Nations headed first by Queen Elizabeth and now by her eldest son.

Emma Eastwood, head of strategic communications for Human Dignity Trust, an organization that works with local activists to overturn laws criminalizing LGBTQ+ people around the world told PinkNewsUK in a May 2 interview:

“Around the world LGBT people are outlawed by legislation criminalizing same-sex sexual activity and through so-called ‘cross dressing’ laws and public order offences, which disproportionately affect trans people,” said Eastwood.

“Many of these laws remain virtually unchanged since they were first introduced in 19th century. The British Empire first tested modern forms of criminalisation in its colonies, in India and Australia for example, before introducing them in the UK itself,” she explained.

Throughout Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, as the British Empire gradually fell away and was replaced by the Commonwealth, many of those former British colonies- now independent countries, have begun working to recant anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

While some, such as the example of India where same-sex marriage is now being argued before the country’s high court, and in Uganda where a draconian law was passed to essentially imprison LGBTQ+ people and in neighboring Kenya expel LGBTQ+ refugees, there have also been advances. Recently the Premier of Victoria in Australia castigated anti-LGBTQ+ groups and in New Zealand lawmakers recently banned so-called conversion therapy and recognized self-identity for trans New Zealanders.

“LGBTQ+ rights across the Commonwealth are changing “rapidly, though unevenly,” Eastwood says.

“While a number of countries have recently decriminalised homosexuality, others, such as Uganda, have introduced legislation to enhance existing laws,” she noted.

Eastwood stressed that it is “hugely important that people of all ages in the UK are cognizant of colonialism and its after-effects”, and that the government owns up to the nation’s past.

Eastwood pointed out that former prime minister Theresa May acknowledged Britain’s role in anti-LGBTQ+ laws around the world in 2018, calling it “an important and pivotal moment in addressing responsibility and paving the way for increased support for the global LGBT movement”.

 “Given this legacy, the UK has an important role in supporting LGBT people around the world,” she adds.

The question now is as Charles takes the throne and the reins of both the monarchy and the Commonwealth will the King remain silent, or speak out.

Additional reporting from PinkNewsUK.

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LGBTQ+ ally Humza Yousaf to lead Scotland as new First Minister

He becomes the first Muslim to lead a major UK political party and is set to be confirmed as Scotland’s sixth First Minister

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British press in a photo op with Humza Yousaf (R) and charity worker during a March 20 event at Who Cares? Scotland in the Glasgow offices of the charity. (Photo credit: Office of Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP/Facebook)

EDINBURGH – Humza Yousaf, in a tumultuous election race for leadership of the Scottish National Party (SNP), pitted against socially conservative rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, was elected Monday as SNP leader. He becomes the first Muslim to lead a major UK political party and the first Muslim to lead a European democracy.

In a vote in the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) tomorrow, 28 March, Yousaf is set to be confirmed as Scotland’s next First Minister, replacing Nicola Sturgeon. Sturgeon had resigned as the SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister last month setting off a close contest within the party to succeed her. 

Her decision was tied to two key political challenges: the future of the independence campaign, and changes to Scotland’s gender recognition laws. In January Sturgeon castigated the conservative government of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for blocking the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from being signed into law by King Charles III.

The Gender Recognition Reform bill introduced by the Scottish government to Holyrood (parliament) last Spring was passed in a final 86-39 vote days before this past Christmas. The sweeping reform bill modifies the Gender Recognition Act, signed into law in 2004, by allowing transgender Scots to gain legal recognition without the need for a medical diagnosis.

The measure further stipulates that age limit for legal recognition is lowered to 16.

The Guardian noted the most pressing question is how a change of leadership affects the Scottish government’s plans to contest the UK’s decision to block the bill – which it did using section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, described by sources as “the nuclear option”. Scottish ministers have three months from the date the section 35 order was laid – 16 January – to contest it.

PinkNewsUK reported that Yousaf had received a tidal wave of support and well wishes after his victory was announced. SNP MP John Nicolson said that Yousaf led a “positive and bold campaign.”

“Humza knows that young voters love our party’s vision of a liberal, progressive, egalitarian independent Scotland,” Nicolson said. “His campaign promised a progressive agenda of fair taxation, defending LGBT+ rights from Westminster attack, and support for the vulnerable at home and abroad.”

Speaking to PinkNews, Nicolson added: “I think young people want a Scotland which is socially progressive and liberal. And for young people, independence isn’t about a face, but it’s about the kind of country that they imagine independent Scotland could be – a progressive country – and Humza very deliberately tapped into that in the course of the election campaign and made it very clear what his views were and championed that.”

During the campaign Yousaf had promised voters, “If elected Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scotland’s next First Minister, I’ll build on our track record of promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people by: (1) Banning conversion practices; and (2)  Embedding LGBTQ+ rights in an independent Scotland’s constitution.”

A political commentator and SNP source told the Blade Monday: “Happy with the result and motivated by what is to come. Humza has secured the continuation of a progressive agenda. I think he will be more popular as he becomes more well-known.”

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