Boris Johnson dives into the trans row and says ‘biological men’ shouldn’t play women’s sports

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a furious backlash from LGBT activists after he refused to include transconversion therapy in a state ban on the practice

People carrying trans rights banners take part in the Pride Glasgow parade through the city centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Picture date: Saturday August 19, 2017. See PA story SCOTLAND Pride. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire
The ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales excludes trans people

Boris Johnson has joined the trans rights ranks, saying “biological men” should not participate in women’s sports and venues should be women-only.

The Prime Minister said this is “as far as my thinking on trans rights has progressed” and “seems reasonable to me”, although he acknowledged he may be “in conflict with some others”.

He was speaking at a Hertfordshire hospital on Wednesday after more than 100 organizations pulled out of a major LGBT conference planned for June – Safe To Be Me – in protest at his failure to include transconversion therapy in a government ban on the practice.

The Prime Minister said he was “sad at the reaction” that has come after a partial U-turn where the government banned all conversion therapy for gay people.

But he refused to back down, adding that he believes women-only areas should be protected and “biological males” excluded from women’s sport.

He added he was “very proud” of his track record in LGBT issues, but “complexities and sensitivities” surrounding the ban remain.

The Prime Minister said: “When I became Foreign Secretary I was adamant that the LGBT flag should be flown over embassies in other parts of the world where they didn’t necessarily share our values. That’s why I’m 100% committed to it.

“And we’re going to have a ban on gay conversion therapy, which I think is absolutely abhorrent. But there are complexities and sensitivities. If you move from the area of ​​sexuality to the issue of gender, and I’m afraid there are things that I think need to be worked out.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t come to an agreement with those affected by the organization, but that will in no way diminish our determination to fight prejudice wherever we can.”

“Let me just say that because this is something you know, for people like me, honestly, it wasn’t something I thought I needed to consider in detail.”

Union leader Keir Starmer has meanwhile accused the government of “diversionary tactics” and “flip-flops”. He said Labor will ban conversion therapy “in all its forms”.

The Prime Minister said some of the issues were “novel concepts” but went on to volunteer “a couple of points”.

He said one issue was whether teens younger than Gillick could be considered competent — a legal term that refers to whether a child under the age of 16 can consent to medical treatment without parental guidance.

It comes after transgender cyclist Emily Bridges was banned from competing in a women’s event after the sport’s governing body ruled she was ineligible to compete.

Bridges, 21, started hormone therapy last year to lower her testosterone levels.

New guidance from the Gender Equality and Human Rights Commission this week also clarified that transgender people can be lawfully excluded from same-sex services – but only if the reasons are “justified and proportionate”.

The watchdog said the justification could be for reasons of privacy, decency, preventing trauma or ensuring health and safety.

The Prime Minister said: “I don’t think it’s reasonable for children to be viewed as having what is known as Gillick’s competence to make decisions about their gender or any irreversible treatments they may have. I think there should be at least parental involvement. That’s the first thing.

“Secondly, I don’t think biological males should compete in women’s sporting events. Maybe that’s debatable, but it just seems reasonable to me.

“And I also think that women should have spaces, whether it’s in hospitals or prisons or dressing rooms or wherever, dedicated to women.



Tayfun Salci / Avalon)

“This is how far my thinking on the subject has progressed. And if that puts me at odds with some others, we need to sort things out.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not very sympathetic to people who want to change gender and transition. And it’s important that we give people the utmost love and support as they make these decisions, but these are complex issues and I don’t think they can be solved with a quick, easy bill. It takes a lot of thought to get that right.”

Mr Starmer said in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview that Labor would ban all conversion therapy.

He said: “That used to be the Government’s position but they’ve been flip-flopping on that in recent days.

“You have to keep your promises. But I can’t help but feel that this is yet another government diversionary tactic.

“You know the cost of living keeps people up at night, whether they can pay their bills or not.

“To deflect that, the government wants to create an argument about conversion therapy. It won’t wash.”

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