UK

Badenoch claim on ‘extensively’ engaging with LGBT groups challenged in Commons

The accuracy of a number of statements made by Kemi Badenoch has come under scrutiny in recent days.

Kemi Badenoch said she has engaged ‘extensively’ with LGBT groups
Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch said she has engaged ‘extensively’ with LGBT groups (Liam McBurney/PA)

Kemi Badenoch said she had engaged “extensively” with LGBT groups when she had not even met them, a Labour former cabinet minister has claimed in the Commons.

Ben Bradshaw questioned if the Business Secretary and equalities minister has a “problem” with the truth and was critical of the Conservatives’ approach to transgender issues.

An ally of Ms Badenoch told the PA news agency she had meetings with the campaign groups Transgender Trend and Sex Matters, and “exchanged multiple emails and letters with other LGBT groups”.

It comes in a week when her statements on two unrelated issues – her sacking of the Post Office chairman and her claims trade talks had been ongoing with Canada – have both been publicly questioned.

Mr Bradshaw was speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions and referenced comments Ms Badenoch made last year.

The Labour MP said: “In December, the Cabinet minister for equalities told this House that she had engaged, and I quote, ‘extensively’ with LGBT organisations since her appointment 18 months ago.

“A freedom-of-information answer published this week reveals that in fact the minister hasn’t met a single LGBT organisation, but has met two fringe groups that actively campaign against transgender rights.

“What is the problem the Prime Minister, and a section of his party, have with trans people, and his equalities minister has with the truth?”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded: “This Government has a proud track record of supporting those in the LGBT community and will continue to do so.

“I’ve also always said that those who are questioning their gender and identity should be treated with the upmost dignity and compassion and sensitivity as they consider those questions.

“But it is completely reasonable alongside that to highlight the importance of biological sex when it comes to those questions. Nobody should be stigmatised or demonised for pointing out that fact.”

In December, Ms Badenoch was speaking in the Commons about issues related to gender recognition and told the House: “We have engaged with numerous LGBT groups.”

She then posted on social media platform X the same day: “I have engaged extensively with LGBT groups in my role as minister for women and equalities.”

Mr Bradshaw’s remarks appear to refer to information published by PinkNews.

The outlet reported in December that Ms Badenoch had not had meetings with any of the UK’s largest LGBTQ+ organisations since taking on her role as minister for women and equalities, citing information provided by Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, the Kaleidoscope Trust and Stonewall.

PinkNews reported on Tuesday that Ms Badenoch did not attend any events related to LGBT Pride in an official capacity last year, citing information released under the freedom of information act.

An ally of Ms Badenoch told the PA news agency: “As well as her meetings with Transgender Trend and Sex Matters, Kemi has exchanged multiple emails and letters with other LGBT groups.

“This all counts as engagement and supports her tweet. But the truth is that Ben Bradshaw really just wants her to meet the likes of Stonewall and Mermaids, who support self-ID – something that Kemi does not support and is not Government policy.”

Ms Badenoch has clashed with Henry Staunton this week, with each providing differing accounts of a conversation in which she dismissed him as chairman of the Post Office.

Labour chairman of the Business and Trade Committee Liam Byrne has also said Ms Badenoch has “questions to answer” over remarks she made in relation to trade negotiations with Canada.

The Business and Trade Committee’s X account said on the social media site that the Canadian High Commissioner “refutes” the claim made by Ms Badenoch in January that trade negotiations on cheese and rules of origin are ongoing.

A Government source said: “The Business and Trade Secretary told the House she was having ‘multiple discussions’, these are very different to the ‘formal negotiations’ or ‘technical discussions’ that were ruled out by the Canadian High Commissioner.

“Badenoch has remained in contact with her Canadian counterpart and next week she will be travelling to WTO MC13 (World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference) in Abu Dhabi where among her meetings she will be continuing discussions with her Canadian counterpart regarding the cheese and rules of origin issues.”