Senior London Tory slams own party over ‘transphobia’

Emma Best says she was “devastated” at the “transphobic rhetoric” she heard at the recent Conservative Party conference, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Emma Best AM
Emma Best AM

A senior London Tory has criticised her party for a “crescendo” of “transphobic rhetoric” at its recent party conference.

Emma Best, deputy leader of the City Hall Conservatives, said she was “devastated” by recent comments made from positions of “seniority”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was accused by Labour’s Angela Eagle of giving “the green light” for transgender people to be attacked, after he said in his conference speech: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t, a man is a man and a woman is a woman.

“That’s just common sense.”

The previous day, Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed that “gender ideology” is a “poison” in Britain. When Best’s City Hall colleague Andrew Boff objected to those remarks, saying there is “no such thing as gender ideology”, he was removed from Braverman’s speech by security.

Speaking at a Mayor’s Question Time session on Thursday (12th), Best said: “Like many, I’ve been devastated this party conference season to see on show the growing transphobic rhetoric in all parties within this assembly.

“I clearly acknowledge, with sadness, [that] the crescendo of that lies with my own party, due to the seniority with which those comments come.”

She said that she wanted to give mayor Sadiq Khan “a rare and genuine thank you for your steadfast support in this issue”, and asked how he can better work to support London’s trans community.

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Khan said he was “incredibly proud” of Boff for his comments during Braverman’s speech, saying he recognised “how difficult it must have been”.

The mayor said in response to Best: “There are teenagers watching this [meeting] who are trans.

“When I tell you that one out of four of them try and kill themselves, we’ve got to be sensitive about the language we use – that’s why Andrew did what he did, because we meet Londoners who are from these communities.”

He added: “We’re doing what we can from City Hall to support these communities. We work with specialist groups, because you’ve got to be specialist in this area […] to support them.

“Gender dysphoria is a recognised issue which we need to confront and address and part of that is providing ally-ship, which I want to carry on doing.”

Thanking the mayor, Best called for “action, not just words”.

Several senior Conservatives have expressed support for Sunak and Braverman’s remarks. Transport secretary Mark Harper said the PM’s comments were “a fairly straightforward statement of the obvious”.

A UK government spokesperson told the Press Association last week that the government “has a proud history of advancing LGBT rights and one of the most robust legislative protection frameworks for LGBT people in the world”.

They added: “There is no place for hate crime in our society, it does not reflect the values of modern Britain, and we remain committed to ensuring these abhorrent offences are stamped out – which is why we have a robust framework to tackle it wherever it is found.

“However, we are clear that biological sex is fundamentally important to protecting single-sex spaces and providing appropriate healthcare as set out by ministers.”

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