Yesterday (5th October), Carrie Johnson made what is thought to be the first ever speech by a prime minister’s wife at a party conference. Speaking at an LGBT+ Conservatives pride reception in Manchester, held in partnership with Stonewall, Mrs Johnson predictably ignored the Prime Minister’s notorious “tank-topped bum boys” comment and instead focused on his and the Conservatives’ contributions to LGBTQ+ rights, including the PM’s breaking the Tory party whip to vote for the repeal of Section 28 in Parliament.
Speaking to an audience that included the Prime Minister and his sister, the journalist Rachel Johnson, Mrs Johnson appeared to recommit the Tories to outlawing conversion therapy, announced in the Queen’s Speech in May of this year. Mrs Johnson also referenced the appointment of Lord Herbert as the UK’s Special Envoy on LGBT Rights, equal marriage – which was brought in under David Cameron – and the fact the the PrEP is soon to be made more widely available on the NHS as evidence of the government’s LGBTQ+ credentials.
Read the full text of Carrie Johnson’s speech here:
Thank you so much for that introduction, it is so fantastic to be here.
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 who 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 logical as saying that 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 and we can now say with huge pride that it was a Conservative prime minister who delivered equal marriage in England and Wales.
I want you all to know that we now have a Prime Minister who is completely committed to accepting those gains and extending them further.
As a backbencher, 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 he extended same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.
Boris also wanted me to remind you that as mayor he led the Pride parade wearing a rather fetching pink Stetson, which I think we should encourage him to do again.
But more seriously, 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 have 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 such a victim of 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 say so as loudly as we can.
That is why it is so important that the UK will be hosting its first ever global conference of LGBT+ right next year.
So whether it is about ending prejudice at home or abroad, LGBT+ Conservatives champion all these issues, so please keep doing what you are doing.
But also please keep doing something else as well, because groups like this don’t just exist to campaign, they also provide a support network for their members.
Every LGBT+ person must go on their own journey of self-acceptance and that I can imagine is not always easy.
There will be some people here tonight who are out to their friends, but maybe not to their family, or to their family but not their work colleagues, there might be some people here who are not out to everyone or questioning who they are.
Wherever you are in your journey, I can assure you you are among friends here. So thank you LGBT Conservatives for everything you do, I know how hard you and your team work Elena (Bunbury, chairwoman of the LGBT+ Conservatives) and I hope you all have a brilliant evening and a wonderful conference and I hope to see some of you on the dance floor.