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Government’s LGBT advisory panel disbanded after three members resign

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/04/2021 Leah Sinclair

The Government’s LGBT advisory panel has been disbanded after three members resigned last month.

The advisory group was due to end their terms on March 31.

However, some members of the group said they were willing to carry on their duties but were not sure if their terms would be continued, according to the BBC.

In a letter seen by the broadcaster, equalities minister Liz Truss wrote to the panel’s seven remaining members thanking them for their "constructive input".

"I will also be shortly making an announcement concerning the International LGBT Conference and convening a new body that will take international LGBT rights forward," she said.

Following news that the panel had been disbanded, former equalities adviser Jayne Ozanne tweeted: “Such a shame to learn that @trussliz is disbanding @GEOgovuk #LGBT advisory panel.

“It was a force for good, where the needs of #LGBT people could be heard & understood. This does nothing to rebuild trust or reassure #LGBT community of their grave concerns.”

A government spokesperson has said a replacement panel will be announced “in due course”.

The panel, which was formed under Theresa May’s administration, was a part of an LGBT Action Plan, that informed ministers "on issues and policies concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

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However, the government was accused of creating a "hostile environment" for LGBT+ people by its own equalities adviser Ms Ozanne who was the first to resign last month.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Ozanne said she had become “increasingly concerned about what is seen to be a hostile environment for LGBT people among this administration.”

"Over the years which the advisory panel has met, we’ve seen an increasing lack of engagement and the actions of ministers have frankly been against our advice," she said.

She was followed by James Morton, who had reportedly been “very concerned for several months” that Ms Truss and her junior ministers were “not committed to LGBT equality”.

Ellen Murray became the third person to quit the panel – writing on Twitter that she decided to leave “due to the Government’s persistent and worsening hostility towards our community in myriad areas.”

The government has also faced criticism over its delay in introducing a ban on conversion therapy in Britain — three years after it was promised by Theresa May’s administration.

In her letter to the panel, Ms Truss added: "I am pressing ahead with our commitment to ban conversion therapy in order to protect LGBT people from these abhorrent practices. I look forward to announcing these measures shortly."

A Government Equality Hub spokesperson said: “The LGBT Advisory Panel was created under the previous administration and the term of all panel members ended on March 31.

“The Minister for Women & Equalities has written to panel members to thank them for their contributions, and plans for a replacement for the Panel will be set out in due course.”

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