Protesters raged outside Downing Street on Sunday at Boris Johnson’s decision not to ban conversion therapy for transgender people.
Organisers said 3,000 people joined the rally, which took the road on Whitehall. Johnson did a double U-turn last week after pulling out of his promise to end LGBT+ conversion therapy. Days later he then stated it would be banned—but not for transgender people.
Andrea, who runs an LGBT+ support group in West Berkshire, told Socialist Worker that after the announcement people had rung the helpline expressing their fear. “People are scared—one person told me they were considering suicide,” she said. “And if anyone does take their own lives as a result, it’ll be Boris Johnson that has blood on his hands.”
She also slammed Tory health secretary Sajid Javid for “ignoring” trans health care. “Wait times for referrals are getting longer and there are hardly any gender clinics,” Andrea said. “Trans kids have to deal with bullying, trauma and hate. But nowhere in mainstream media do you read stories that put trans people in a positive light.
“They want to drive a wedge between LGBT+ people and between trans people and women—and then it’ll be easier for them to come for LGB people too. We have to make it clear we’re not going anywhere—and that we are valid.”
At the rally protesters chanted, “No LGB without the T,” “Trans rights are human rights,” “No excuse for abuse,” and, “Protect trans youth.” Trans flags and placards read, “Trans people don’t need to be fixed,” “Black trans lives matter,” and, “Cure bigotry not gender identity.”
Speakers aimed their anger at the Tories—met with cries of “shame”—and shared their experiences about the reality of conversion therapy. One speaker explained that they attempted to contact their Tory MP, but are now being ignored and fobbed off. “When I went through conversion therapy someone told me I was sick for being who I am—well I am sick. I’m sick of being ignored,” they said. “The government is willing to put kids through shit who will be lucky to survive the trauma.”
Another activist said, “We will not go down quietly. Being trans isn’t the issue—the issue is people like Boris Johnson. But together we are more powerful, and we can change minds.”
Over 100 LGBT+ and HIV charities called a boycott of the Tories’ global LGBT+ conference after Johnson’s decision. Safe To Be Me that was set to be held in summer. The conference was cancelled as a result.
Vicky is an activist in Peterborough. “My son was subjected go conversion therapy, and he took an overdose because if it,” she told Socialist Worker. “The Tories are liars and they’re inhumane. We’ve got to get people to listen and change minds. The fact that 100 charities reject the Tories’ conference shows we won’t be taking it.”
Protesters were also outraged at the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s decision to allow blocks for trans people using single-sex spaces.“Trans women are not a threat to non-trans women,” protester El told Socialist Worker. “Our reality is that we’re more likely to be beaten up and killed for being trans. “It just makes it easier for us all to be attacked when we’re divided—and that benefits people like Boris Johnson.”
But El added that it’s “fantastic” so many people came out to protest, and that other protests have been called across Britain. “We might be a minority group, but we are the majority against transphobes when it comes to the fighting for our rights. We’re outraged that we’re being treated like this—we are humans too. And we shouldn’t still have to be demanding basic rights. Our human rights are just not negotiable.”
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