The PR worker hailed a long-promised, not-yet-delivered ban on conversion therapy and praised the record of her husband Boris Johnson, who described gay men as ‘tank-topped bumboys’ in 1998
Image: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock)
Carrie Johnson has told Tory members she was moved to tears by an LGBT+ hate crime victim in a rare speech at the Conservative Party Conference.
In her only public intervention of the gathering in Manchester, the party’s former comms chief – and wife of Boris – said there is a “long way to go” for gay rights.
But she defended the party’s record, praising a ban on conversion therapy that was first promised in 2018 and is still being worked through.
31 years after Margaret Thatcher pushed through Section 28, which forbade “promoting” homosexuality, she said there was now no reason not to be a gay Tory.
She also personally praised her husband, who described gay men as “tank-topped bum boys” in 1998, insisting he was a bastion of LGBT rights.
Trans rights groups have accused Boris Johnson ’s government of abandoning their pleas after plans to make it easier to change their legal gender were ditched.
Tory MPs have also been demanding clear plans to end conversion therapy since the pledge was first made in July 2018.
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who was at tonight’s event, in April slammed a planned loophole in the ban that will allow “non-coercive” conversion therapy to continue.
But Mrs Johnson, whose Tory leader husband was spotted at the event, insisted the PM was “completely committed” to protecting the party’s “gains” on LGBT rights.
She said: “As a back bencher, Boris broke the whip to vote in favour of repealing Section 28. As mayor of London he supported same sex marriage.
“As Foreign Secretary he lifted the ban on British embassies abroad flying the Pride flag.
“And as Prime Minister he has appointed the great Nick Herbert as the UK’s first Special Envoy on LGBT+ rights, and last year extended same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.
“Boris also wanted me to remind you that as mayor he led the Pride parade in a rather fetching pink Stetson, that I think you should encourage him to do again.”
She went on: “The government he leads is 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 for all the progress we’ve made as a society, we know there is still a long way to go. The LGBT+ community still faces stigma, harassment and discrimination, with hate crimes still a fact of life.
“I heard myself from the victim of such a crime at the Pride reception we held in Downing Street earlier this year, and I have to say I was moved to tears.
“Around the world, being LGBT+ is still a crime in 71 countries. In 11 countries it is punishable by death, just because of who you love.
“None of this is acceptable obviously, and it is up to all of us to stand up and say so as loudly as we can.”
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Mrs Johnson added: “Whether you are LGBT+ or an ally like me, we are all committed to equality and acceptance for everyone, whoever you are and whomever you love.
“There are still those that will tell you that being LGBT+ and a Tory is somehow incompatible.
“Well, looking around the room tonight we can see that is blatantly untrue.
“The idea that your sexual orientation or your gender identity should determine your politics is now as illogical as saying your height or your hair colour should.
“Many of you here tonight have helped play a part in the journey our party has taken on gay rights.”