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Boris Johnson named UK’s new Prime Minister: What this means for LGBTIs

Boris Johnson named UK’s new Prime Minister: What this means for LGBTIs

Boris Johnson's LGBTI rights voting

Boris Johnson has been elected as the 77th Prime Minister of the UK today (24 July).

He beat his opponent, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, to succeed Theresa May who announced her resignation last month.

The former mayor of London (2008-2016) was declared as PM at the Queen Elizabeth II Center in central London.

He takes the leadership of the Conservative Party after a vote of around 160,000 members with an 87% voter turnout.

Hunt scored 46,656 votes. Johnson won with 92,153.

But as Brexit’s 31 October deadline looms, many LGBTI people are wondering what exactly a Boris Johnson premiership will mean for them.

What does this mean for LGBTIs?

It means the new PM is one who has referred to gay men as ‘bumboys’ in a column for the Telegraph and once compared marriage equality to bestiality in his book in the 2000s.

Furthermore, his hardcore support of Brexit will, according to research conducted by Gay Star News, prove disastrous for queer folk.

His voting history for LGBTI people is near to non-existent, too, according to records.

‘I will continue to champion LGBT+ equality’

However, there are signs his attitudes have changed in recent years.

When LGBT+ Conservatives asked the then potential PM what his plan is for LGBTI rights earlier this year, he said: ‘If I am lucky enough to be elected Conservative leader, I pledge that my administration will not consider [LGBTI issues] as “job done.”

‘I will continue to champion LGBT+ equality, get tough on hate crime, and ensure that we break down barriers to a fairer society.’

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been seeking the support of LGBTI voters - despite his anti-gay views in the past.
In 2016, Johnson claimed leading the EU would be good for LGBT rights – an opinion that many pushing for a second referendum disagree with | Picture: YouTube

Moreover, he pledged to ‘ensure trans rights are protected.’ And to knuckle down on LGBTI-inclusive education in the wake of protests.

He also said he will ‘work closely’ with LGBT+ Conservatives in policy-making.

‘We have work to do!’

LGBT+ Conservative chairman Colm Howard-Lloyd told Gay Star News how he looks forward to working with Johnson. But there are caveats.

‘As Mayor [of London], Boris funded pride and banned anti-gay tube ads.

‘In parliament, he backed same-sex marriage, and as Foreign Secretary, encouraged UK embassies to fly the rainbow flag, and had robust discussions with Commonwealth colleagues on progress needed.

‘However as a journalist he used some distinctly hurtful and unhelpful language, and that has dented the confidence of many in the LGBT community.

‘I expect him to address that at an early opportunity.

‘During the leadership race Boris made a number of commitments via LGBT+ Conservatives.

‘I look forward to working closely with the new Prime Minister and his team. We have work to do!’

‘He’s sometimes been supportive’

‘Boris Johnson has a mixed voting record on LGBT+ equality,’ said Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights organization, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

‘He’s sometimes been supportive and other times he’s abstained. His past insulting utterances count against him

‘As an MP, he voted to repeal Section 28 in 2003 and to introduce civil partnerships in 2004.

‘He backed same-sex marriage long before many other MPs. But there is no indication that he has any commitment to remedying the remaining injustices faced by LGBT+ people.’

How did we get here?

After 17 hustings, interviews, and two head-to-head television debates across two months, Johnson’s campaign trail was a bumpy one.

It’s one that has included an endorsement from US president Donald Trump, and a bizarre moment when he punched the air with a vacuum-packed smoked herring.

While critics have rained in on his bumbling performances as both mayor of London and as foreign secretary, supporters have been drawn in by his charm and his hard-line view on Brexit.

An issue which has quickly emerged as the biggest peacetime crisis facing the nation.

He has promised to, deal or no-deal, see that the UK withdraws out of the European Union by the end of October.

This is despite many arguing that such a hurtling crash from the bloc would be disastrous economically and politically.

‘We are going to unite this country and take it forward,’ he said in his acceptance speech.

‘The campaign is over, and the work begins.’

Many ministers will now step-down

Yet uniting his own party may prove difficult.

Johnson’s promotion to premiership will cause many Conservative ministers to resign altogether.

For example, chancellor Philip Hammond said on Sunday (21 July) he would step-down upon Johnson’s step-up.

The finance chief for Theresa May’s cabinet has consistently warned about the economic rupture of Brexit. Making he and the Treasury department unpopular among Brexiteers.

And on Monday, Foreign Office minister and openly gay MP Alan Duncan resigned ahead of today’s result being announced.

Meanwhile Anne Milton also resigned as minister of state for skills and apprenticeships ahead of the leadership results today.

In addition, current cabinet ministers including business secretary Greg Clark and justice secretary David Gauke are expected to resign.

Why are some voters annoyed?

Around 99% of eligible voters were not able to have a say in whether Johnson or his opponent, Jeremy Hunt, would lead their country.

Only 160,000 members of the Conservative Party were able to vote. This is because the governing party directly elects the PM.

The postal vote ended at 5pm on Monday.

This meant that many felt shut out from the process. With the average eligible Conservative voter being male, white, around 57 years old, and pro-Brexit, according to data analysis.

Source: EURef2 / What UK Thinks
Source: EURef2 / What UK Thinks

Furthermore, in the latest What U.K. Thinks: Poll of Polls, an average of the six most recent polls on Brexit, Britain is as evenly divided now as it was three years ago.

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