The UK’s Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch MP, misgenders transgender people and questions gay marriage in the leaked clip.
In audio obtained by VICE World News, Badenoch is heard questioning what trans people are looking for.
“It’s no longer about minority rights in terms of race any more or nationality,” the Minister of Equalities can be heard saying, “it’s now, you know like, it’s not even about sexuality now, it’s now like the whole transgender movement, where, OK well we’ve got gay marriage, and civil partnerships, so what are transsexuals looking for?”
The term “transsexual” is widely seen as offensive and outdated, originating in the psychological and medical communities to imply that someone has undergone gender-affirming medical procedures.
Comments made by the Conservative MP were reportedly said in Badenoch’s parliamentary office in 2018 – one year before being appointed a minister by Boris Johnson.
In the audio, the Minister for Equalities goes on to complain about “men using women’s bathrooms” as she appears to misgender transgender people.
Badenoch says: “Even when, you know, so, people hear about, you know like the whole bathroom thing, it’s actually more of an American thing but they have a similar problem, that, right so now it’s not just about being free to marry who you want, you now want to have men using women’s bathrooms.”
UK equality laws imply that misgendering trans women may be illegal – something that is supported by employment tribunal rulings in 2019 and 2021.
“Calling a trans woman a man is likely to be profoundly distressing. It may be unlawful harassment,” the 2019 ruling read.
These comments are disgusting.
With hate crimes and transphobia on the rise we need an Equalities Minister who will stand up for trans people, not add fuel to the fire of abuse and discrimination faced by LGBT+ people in our country. https://t.co/jqoUkxuhqt
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) September 17, 2021
Writing on Twitter, Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, explained that the Equalities Minister “should not be in the job”.
She added: “These comments are disgusting. With hate crimes and transphobia on the rise we need an Equalities Minister who will stand up for trans people, not add fuel to the fire of abuse and discrimination faced by LGBT+ people in our country.”
“Everyone should be able to be themselves and be celebrated, supported and loved for who they are. The Equalities Minister should not be in the job if she does not believe that,” a follow-up tweet said.
Badenoch first became Minister for Equalities in February 2020, with the government’s website explaining that her responsibilities include “addressing the discrimination and inequalities that LGBT people face”.
A statement from the UK government said: “The Minister for Equalities is working hard to deliver for LGBT people, whether that is modernising the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate, driving forward LGBT rights in the workplace or banning conversion therapy.
It continued: “This 2018 comment has been taken out of context, with the Minister making a clear point about striking the balance for equality and fairness when there are multiple and often competing demands between different groups. It should not be used to misrepresent her views.”
Earlier this week, in a cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister was tipped to promote Badenoch but instead made her minister of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
This reshuffle was criticised by journalist and commentator Jonathan Lis, who questioned whether or not equality was a priority for the government.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “So Liz Truss will be foreign secretary and remain the minister for women and equalities. Which one of those does Johnson think ought to be a part time job?”
So Liz Truss will be foreign secretary and remain the minister for women and equalities. Which one of those does Johnson think ought to be a part time job?
— Jonathan Lis (@jonlis1) September 15, 2021