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The Safe To Be Me summit was left in tatters earlier this week when more than 100 LGBT and HIV groups pulled out of the three-day event over the government’s stance on conversion therapy – wasting £650,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Controversial charity Stonewall was being paid to co-chair the summit’s external organising body, however the group wrote an open letter to Mr Johnson saying they would only participate in the conference if he includes transgender people in any legislation against conversion therapy.
The event was due to be held in June to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first ever London Pride marches and was set to be the UK’s first ever global LGBT summit.
However ministers officially scrapped the event on Tuesday following the charity’s mass boycott and the resignation of the Government’s own LGBT adviser Iain Anderson, who is a Stonewall ambassador.
It comes as Boris Johnson said parents should have ‘involvement at the very least’ in decisions made by children to alter their gender and backed making the ‘abhorrent’ practice of trying to force gay people to become heterosexual illegal.
But the PM refused to extend the proposed ban on the practice to trans people – despite opposition from backbench MPs and the Scottish Tories.
Stonewall has been accused of ‘holding No 10 to ransom’ after the charity staged a mass boycott of an LGBT international conference over ministers’ failure to ban transgender conversion therapy (file image)
The Safe To Be Me summit was left in tatters earlier this week when more than 100 LGBT and HIV groups pulled out of the three-day event over the government’s stance on conversion therapy – wasting £650,000 of taxpayers’ money. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Stonewall holding a top role for the summit caused unrest at No 10 following government departments leaving the charity over concerns around impartiality, reports The Telegraph.
It comes as £650,000 of taxpayer cash was spent on the conference on ‘proposed venue advertising’ before the event was scrapped – with the true spending likely to be higher as it excludes the ‘salaries of at least eighteen civil servants who spent two years planning the event’ and obtaining sponsors with overseas trips.
MPs have suggested they ‘send Stonewall the bill’ and made demands that the ‘dominant’ charity has ‘no further involvement in Whitehall’.
It was also reported that the Cabinet Office ‘signed off £5 million in February 2022’ for the Government Equalities Office to plan the three-day conference, with the ‘required’ budget totalling £8.1million.
The final £3.1million was expected to be signed off closer to the Safe To Be Me summit’s date.
It comes as £650,000 of taxpayer cash was spent on the conference on ‘proposed venue advertising’ before the event was scrapped – with the true spending likely to be higher as it excludes the ‘salaries of at least eighteen civil servants who spent two years planning the event’ and obtaining sponsors with overseas trips
A Stonewall spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘More than 200 LGBTQ+ and HIV sector organisations pulled out of the Safe To Be Me conference in the wake of the Prime Minister’s broken promise on conversion therapy.
‘The withdrawal shows the depth of feeling and unity within the LGBTQ+ sector about the decision to continue to allow trans people to be subjected to these harmful practices.
‘Trans people are nearly twice as likely to be targeted by conversion practices, and it is shameful that the UK Government is choosing to protect some LGBTQIA+ people and not others from this abusive practice.
‘We remain in ongoing dialogue with the government on a range of policy issues, but could not support this conference when the Prime Minister continues to ignore the medical and human rights consensus on the need for a trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy.
It was claimed last week that the Prime Minister had decided to ditch the plan – but Mr Johnson later confirmed that a law banning conversion therapy will indeed be in the Queen’s Speech next month, although it will not cover transgender therapy.
In his letter to the PM, Mr Anderson said serving as the UK’s first LGBT business champion had been ‘the greatest privilege of my life’ – but he felt he had ‘no choice’ but to resign. Learning that trans people ‘would be excluded from the legislation and therefore not have the same immediate protections’ was ‘deeply damaging to my work’, he wrote.
Mr Anderson added that it was ‘profoundly shocking’ that the Government had apparently backtracked on protection for transgender people in the same week that Jamie Wallis became the country’s first MP to come out as transgender.
Mr Wallis, who will continue using he/him pronouns ‘for the time being’, has said it would be a ‘broken promise’ to ban gay – but not trans – conversion therapy.
The MP for Bridgend, who revealed on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, said it would be ‘wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people’.
Source: Daily Mail