Two more government LGBT advisors have quit an official panel amid growing concern that ministers are creating a “hostile environment” for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
The further resignations come after Jayne Ozanne, the first advisor to announce her departure, criticised equality ministers Kemi Badenoch and Liz Truss for being “ignorant” and rejecting official advice.
Now, ITV news reports that a second adviser, James Morton, has also quit, along with a third, Ellen Murray.
Ms Ozanne has said she had been “increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration”.
Mr Morton meanwhile said ministers had ignored concerns that they were damaging LGBT people’s lives by “fuelling culture wars”.
The catalyst for the resignations is the government’s foot-dragging on banning so-called “gay conversation therapy”.
Theresa May had pledged to end the practice years ago, and Boris Johnson has also endorsed the policy – but has yet to bring forward any actual proposals to change the law.
There are fears the government will fail to totally prohibit the practice after Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch told MPs on Monday she wanted to “end” conversions, but repeatedly avoided using the term “ban”.
The government’s approach to trans rights is also a source of contention. Ms Ozanne told ITV News: “They are known among the community as the ‘ministers for inequality’.
“I don’t believe that they understand LGBT people, particularly transgender people.
“I’ve sat in meetings and I’ve been astonished about how ignorant they are on issues that affect the real lives, particularly of younger people.”
Mr Morton, the second advisor to quit, meanwhile said there had been no “genuine engagement” with the advisory panel in the last year.
“For the last 12 months, I’ve been increasingly concerned about the direction of travel around trans rights,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I didn’t have any naive expectation that an advisory panel would manage to get a government to make massive improvements to LGBT people’s lives.
“But I did hope that there would be some kind of genuine engagement with the panel and interest in learning about the needs and experiences of LGBT people, and it just felt like in the last 12 months there just wasn’t.”
Asked about his experience in the panel’s meetings, Mr Morton said: “I don’t feel like I’m at liberty to talk about exact words that were used in the meetings, but I can talk about the comments that have been made by ministers publicly.
“After we have been trying to explain to them how badly fuelling culture wars affects trans people and their day-to-day lives, they continue to make comments about ‘war on wokeness’, and how LGBT and race equality have become ‘too fashionable’ and therefore need to be de-prioritised.
“It certainly does not feel fashionable to be a trans person in the UK at the moment, it feels really scary.”
The government was last year reported to have shelved its plans to make the legal transition process easier for trans people.
A government spokesperson said it was “committed to building a country in which everyone, no matter their sexuality, race or religion, is free to live their lives as they choose”.
“We have repeatedly made clear that we will take action to end conversion therapy.”