Trans Rights Row: BoJo Believes Biological Men Should Not Compete in Female Sports
The UK prime minister has weighed in on the transgender rights debate shortly after Britain's equality watchdog rolled out new guidelines that said trans people could be legitimately excluded from single-sex services if "justifiable".
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expanded on his views about trans rights during his visit to a hospital in Welwyn Garden City, concentrating particularly on trans sports and trans kids.
"I don't think that it's reasonable for kids to be deemed so-called Gillick-competent to take decisions about their gender or irreversible treatments that they may have. I think there should be parental involvement at the very least," Johnson said when he was asked about conversion therapy. "I don't think that biological men should be competing in female sporting events."
He then pledged that the UK will ban gay conversion therapy - a practice he described as "utterly abhorrent". But when it comes to trans rights, the prime minister added, the issue is far more complex.
"But there are complexities and sensitivities when you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender. There, I'm afraid, there are things that I think still need to be worked out," Johnson concluded.
After saying that he believes women should have single-sex spaces, the prime minister was quick to note that his remarks did not mean he was "not immensely sympathetic to people who want to transition."
"It's vital that we give people the maximum possible love and support in making those decisions," Johnson said.
His remarks come shortly after the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued new guidelines
that proposed excluding trans people from single-sex services in case there are "justifiable and proportionate" reasons. Among the single-sex services listed by EHRC were sport clubs, hospital wards, refugee shelters etc.
Warmly welcomed by women rights activists, the guidelines received criticism from those believing that the new recommendations could lead to violation of the 2010 Equality Act, ultimately leading to more confusion.
The prime minister also appeared to fuel the already existing division among the Tories when it comes to trans rights and conversion therapy. Although the majority of conservatives believe that gay conversion therapy should be banned, there are disagreements regarding trans people.
"When it comes to conversion therapy, it is absolutely right, as the Government has said, that we ban so-called conversion therapy for LGB people. When it comes to trans, I do think that we need to be more careful," Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on the matter, echoing Johnson's sentiment.
Deputy chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, William Wragg, argues that he sees "no reason" why trans people should be excluded from potential legislation banning conversion therapy. A trans Tory MP, Jamie Wallis, agreed, saying that "it is wrong to exclude protections for a whole group of people from a practice described as 'abhorrent'."