UK Government Defines LGBT Equality as ‘Key Economic Asset’

Downing Street LGBT Pride Celebration
Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that LGBT equality is a “key economic asset” of the United Kingdom at a Downing Street garden reception to celebrate Pride Month.

Speaking at the Downing Street Pride reception on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said: “Whomever you love, however you identify, whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans – I want this government to have your back.”

Mr Johnson said that he was proud to live in one of the most “open and tolerant” countries in the world and said that LGBT equality was a “key economic asset” of the UK.

Explaining how he arrived at this belief, Mr Johnson harked back to his time as Mayor of London, one of Britain’s most diverse cities. He told the Pride reception at his official residence that: “I have a very simple reason for thinking that’s the right thing, and it was born of long experience of running one of the greatest cities in the world.

“… if you want to have one of the most dynamic, thriving tech-scientific-academic-cultural-artistic sector in the world, if you want to attract the best and brightest from around the world, then you have to be progressive on these issues.”

The Tory leader’s comments came just weeks after he declared at the G7 summit in Cornwall that he will be looking to “build back better” after the coronavirus crisis “in a more gender-neutral, and perhaps a more feminine way”.

The government press release said that the Pride celebration at Downing Street was meant to reflect on the work done to “tackle LGBT injustice” and to look forward to next June when the UK will host an LGBT-themed “Safe To be Me: A Global Equality Conference”.

Mr Johnson said that the UK’s first-ever global LGBT conference will look to promote “kindness, tolerance and openness” in Britain and to promote LGBT equality around the world.

While the prime minister said that he was “hugely proud of our country’s record on LGBT issues”, Johnson said that “we must not rest on our laurels” adding that the country has more work to do to stamp out discrimination and to combat “disgraceful hate crimes” against the LGBT community.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Boris met with Chris McNaghten and Jon Swan, who became one of the first homosexual couples to be married in Northern Ireland after the UK territory legalised same-sex marriage last year.

He also met with the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces, Caroline Paige, to discuss how to make the British defence apparatus “more inclusive” and hailed his government’s work to restore medals to trans military personnel who were removed from the Armed Forces for their gender preferences.

Despite leading the Conservative Party, Mr Johnson has long been a promoter of LGBT issues, joining several Pride parades when he was serving as the Mayor of London. In 2010, he became the highest-ranking Tory to back legalising gay marriage.

In 2016, Johnson — who was then serving as the nation’s foreign secretary — lifted the prohibition on flying flags other than the Union Jack at Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) buildings overseas in order to allow the rainbow ‘LGBT Pride’ flag to be flown.

Over the past month, nearly all British government social media accounts, including that of the UK Prime Minister, have been emblazoned with rainbow colours to celebrate Pride Month.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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