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The environmentalist and animal welfare campaigner Carrie Johnson will deliver a speech at next week’s Conservative Party conference about the importance of LGBTQ+ rights.

Mrs Johnson, who is married to the Prime Minister, will speak at the conference’s Pride reception, an event organised by LGBT+ Conservatives in partnership with Stonewall. Stonewall’s participation in the event comes at a time when several government departments have withdrawn from the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme amid concerns about the charity’s interpretation of legislation in respect of trans rights.

Mrs Johnson is the director of communications at animal welfare charity the Aspinall Foundation and has often spoken publicly about animal welfare and environmental issues, but she has seldom made any public pronouncements on wider political issues. 

Commenting on Mrs Johnson’s participation in the event, Chair of LGBT+ Conservatives Elena Bunbury said, “Carrie is a longstanding ally and has always been a good sport to LGBT+ Conservatives. She even judged our virtual lip-sync last conference. We’re thrilled she’ll be joining us in person this year in Manchester.”

Of the Conservatives’ 363 MPs, 23 identify as LGBT, roughly in line with the percentage of LGBT+ people in the general population. This increased representation has helped the party emerge from the shadow of homophobia which reached its peak with the introduction of the now infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.  The Act stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Despite fielding more LGBTQ+ MPs than any other party in the House of Commons, the government’s record is far from being blemish free. The appointment of Lord Herbert as the UK Government’s Special Envoy on LGBT Rights has been broadly welcomed, yet they have failed to make any meaningful changes to the Gender Recognition Act and have yet to outlaw conversion therapy, despite committing to ban the practice in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year.

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