Yesterday, Carrie Johnson gave a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester stating that her husband Boris is ‘completely committed’ to protecting LGBTQ+ rights and is looking at ‘extending them further’.
In a room of 100 people including Boris, she said that she was ‘moved to tears’ at a Pride reception in Downing Street earlier this year after hearing the testimony of some who had been victim of hate crime, describing herself as an ‘ally’.
Praising her husband’s record on LGBTQ+ rights, she commended him for ‘banning conversion therapy, rolling out PrEP on the NHS in England as part of its mission to eliminate HIV transmission, and restoring medals to veterans who had them stripped from them for being lesbian or gay.’
But her comments have been met with criticism, namely by people who are sceptical of Boris’ commitment to queer rights. When Boris banned conversion therapy, for example, he was also accused of creating a loophole by requesting the ban not include attempts to ‘pray the gay away’. That means that conversion therapy could continue under the guise of prayer, with Stonewall condemning the proposal at the time. It’s also not explicitly banned yet, the government have only announced that it would be after a public consultation in May this year – with numerous charities accusing the tory party of ‘dragging their feet’.
This is the same Boris that once compared gay marriage to beastiality.
You can’t blame people for being sceptical then, after all this is the same Boris that once referred to gay people as ‘tank-topped bumboys’ and compared gay marriage to beastiality in columns written when he was still a journalist. And despite what Carrie says, he’s only actually been present for five votes of the 16 the government have had on gay rights. While he generally votes for gay rights, according to They Work For You, the fact he’s chosen not to attend 11 vital votes on LGBTQ+ issues says a lot.
What else says a lot? The fact Carrie spoke, not him. That’s what many online are criticising – asking why the prime minister could not deliver a speech about the important of queer rights himself, or if he was going to choose someone else to, why not an LGBTQ+ member of his party?
Ultimately, these details matter because they speak to how ‘committed’ the tory party really are to ‘extending gay rights’. If Boris truly cared as Carrie claims he does, surely he can tell us himself.