Johnson’s LGBT adviser ‘dismayed’ at failure to ban trans conversion practices

Nick Herbert calls for royal commission to detoxify trans debate but criticises ‘shouty protests’

The prime minister’s LGBT adviser has said he is “dismayed” by the decision not to include transgender people in a ban on conversion practices, while describing the cancellation of the government’s equality conference as an “act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby”.

Nick Herbert also called for a royal commission to detoxify and take the politics out of the trans debate.

It comes after the government has faced fierce criticism after a series of U-turns last week on promised legislation to outlaw conversion practices, and its backtracking on commitments to include transgender people in the ban.

At least 100 LGBTQ+ and HIV organisations pulled out of the UK’s first international conference on LGBTQ+ rights, Safe To Be Me, in protest, leading to its cancellation.

The anger has not abated, with hundreds of people protesting against the government’s decision outside Downing Street on Sunday.

Lord Herbert, Boris Johnson’s special envoy on LGBT rights, wrote on his website: “The conference’s cancellation is damaging to the government and to the UK’s global reputation. But it is also an act of self-harm by the LGBT lobby.”

He accused the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall of orchestrating the boycott and of shedding “crocodile tears” over the subsequent cancellation.

Herbert, 59, said: “LGBT groups were understandably dismayed, as was I, when a promised conversion therapy ban was suddenly dropped and then only partially reinstated just hours later.”

The exclusion of trans people reflects “concern that more time is needed to ensure that legitimate therapies to help young people with gender dysphoria are not inadvertently criminalised”, he said.

Such concerns can be allayed, he said, while warning ministers against conflating helping people with ideology that can “do irreparable harm”.

“We must address the concerns and make the case for change, deploying the evidence and reassuring parliamentarians that a ban which includes trans people is a safe and justifiable course to take,” he wrote, while criticising “shouty protests” over the issue.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street to demand that transgender people be included in the proposed conversion practices ban.

They shouted “keep trans in the ban” and “LGB with the T”, while many waved the pink, white and blue transgender pride flag.

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the crowd: “We were promised a total ban. Boris Johnson has given us a half-baked ban, which we will never ever accept.

“The only ban worth having is a ban for everyone, including trans people.”

Jess, 23, from Nottingham, told the PA news agency that transgender people’s lives were at risk because of government policy.

“The reason that I am here at the protest today is because government policy and the transphobic rhetoric we’re seeing around excluding trans people from the conversion therapy ban is a massive threat to trans lives, particularly trans youth, within the UK,” they said.